Seattle had a different vibe entering the fourth quarter of its matchup against Tulsa on Sunday.
Getting outscored a combined 32-8 in the final minutes of two straight losses will do that to a team.
Instead of crumbling, Seattle made tough plays late to win 62-60 at KeyArena. It’s the Storm’s first win of the season at home after a 1-4 road swing.
“This was huge for us,” Storm forward Crystal Langhorne said of the win. She finished with a season-high 23 points and eight rebounds.
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The Storm led 62-56 after guard Sue Bird found Langhorne for a layin with 2:36 left in the game. Tough defensive stretches by both teams slowed the offense, but Tulsa used two free throws and a putback by guard Skylar Diggins to pull to 62-60 with 33.4 seconds left in the game.
The momentum seemed to shift Tulsa’s way, but that’s where the change clicked for Seattle.
Still clinging to a two-point lead with under 10 seconds left in the game, the Storm was no longer tentative.
Forward Camille Little tied up Diggins on a dribble to force a jump ball with 5.1 seconds left. Little won the tip, Bird collecting the ball to help drain the final seconds for the win before 6,128 fans.
Storm coach Brian Agler had his team watch two-hours of game film Sunday morning to prepare for the evening matchup. Most of the footage was the Atlanta loss Friday, where Seattle was outscored 19-8 in the final six minutes. Other clips were the New York loss on Tuesday, where Seattle was outscored 13-0 in the final three minutes.
“You’re like, ‘Wow! Is that what that looked like?’ ” Bird said of the difficulty in watching the footage. “But it was in our control and the (tentativeness) of when to do things. So, all of the chatter on the bench tonight was, ‘All right guys, we’re back in this situation; this is where we need to finish it off.’ ”
Little said that was her mindset during her key play as Tulsa looked to force overtime.
“She put it in front of me and I tried to take it,” said Little of the key play against Diggins. “This is good for us. It’s nice to execute. I always believed we could do it. But now that we’ve done it, hopefully everybody will be a little bit more confident to be able to close more games.”
The loss is Tulsa’s fifth consecutive to start the season. Forward Glory Johnson scored a season-high 21 points and had nine rebounds to pace the Shock.
Seattle (2-5) opened the second half aggressively. Langhorne attacked Tulsa’s defense to score eight of Seattle’s opening 10 points in the third quarter, giving Seattle a 47-42 lead.
“Sometimes you can improve without even practicing; through conversation and watching yourselves play,” Agler said. “From our opening night to now, we’re a much better basketball team. We’re better defensively. But we’re still learning a lot about ourselves.”
Seattle, which returned Saturday from a four-game trip, plays at Phoenix on Tuesday. Overall, Seattle will play 10 of its opening 13 games on the road.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.