WASHINGTON — Crystal Langhorne never experienced a 0-4 start during her six seasons with the Washington Mystics. By helping defeat her former team on Saturday night, the Seattle Storm’s power forward avoided such a winless fate with her new employer.
Sue Bird scored 16 points, Camille Little 15 and Langhorne grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds as the Storm found its shooting touch in the second half for a 73-65 victory over the Washington Mystics.
Seattle (1-3) traded second-year forward Tianna Hawkins and 2014 first-round pick Bria Hartley to Washington on draft day for Langhorne. Sure, the thought of revenge took place, but that played second fiddle to seeking out victory number one.
“Of course I want to (win) more against my old team,” Langhorne said, “but we were looking for our first win.”
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That first victory took place because after shooting struggles for 3½ games, the Storm found its touch during the second half.
Seattle shot 56 percent (15 of 27) during the final two quarters after opening with a dismal 32.3 percent (10 of 31) in the first half. That second-half surge included going 5 of 10 from beyond the three-point arc. The biggest of those long baskets came from Bird.
The Storm took the lead for good during the third quarter as three three-pointers, two from Shekinna Stricklen, highlighted a 13-2 run. Little’s jumper with 4:53 remaining gave Seattle its largest lead at 64-53.
For a time that lead seemed like it might not be large enough.
Emma Meesseman scored 12 points for the Mystics (1-2), who went on a 7-0 spurt in 73 seconds, cutting the lead to 64-60.
As Seattle’s attack stalled, Washington had two offensive possessions to make it a one-score game. Instead the Mystics missed both shot attempts. Bird countered with a three-pointer from the left wing with 1:30 remaining.
“We’re up 11. Then they got a lot of offensive rebounds, some stick-backs, some shots go in and, yeah, as a team we’re thinking we need to make a play,” Bird said.
The star point guard hadn’t actually been making many shots to start the season. She went 8 of 25 overall in the three losses and was just 4 of 13 on Saturday before making the crucial three-pointer.
“That’s the Sue that we know right there,” said Seattle coach Brian Agler. “We’ve seen that multiple times. It’s almost surprising when you don’t see it.”
The Storm sealed the win with four free throws in the final 11.7 seconds and finished 16 of 16 from the foul line. Tanisha Wright scored 14 points.
Friday’s 71-59 loss at the Connecticut Sun gave Seattle its fourth 0-3 start in franchise history. Only during the team’s inaugural 2000 campaign did it open the season losing four straight. That year, Seattle finished in the WNBA basement with a 6-26 record.
Both teams committed 16 turnovers, but Washington shot only 36.9 percent from the field. Hawkins and Hartley went 1 of 5 from the field for four points.
Langhorne scored only six points, but helped elsewhere.
“I just know they were going to be rotating on defense so (I) just tried to crash the glass,” Langhorne said.
Thanks to Langhorne’s insider knowledge, Seattle finally crashed the win column.