Strategy was secondary on Sunday.
Looking to rebound from a 21-point loss to San Antonio on Friday, Storm coach Brian Agler began his pregame speech by talking about character — character he looked for in building a team without franchise players. Character his team didn’t show when it didn’t display a semblance of defending on Friday.
“It wasn’t that we were shrugging Friday off, because we’re a proud team. We don’t like playing like that,” Agler said. “But because of the people we have in this locker room, I know what I’m expecting and it wouldn’t surprise me if we responded. And we did respond much better.”
The Storm got its signature defense back and suffocated the Silver Stars in a 69-63 win on Sunday at KeyArena. Seattle had a season-high 48 rebounds and held San Antonio to 33.8 percent shooting in the game.
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“We were a little embarrassed the other night,” said Storm forward Tina Thompson, who had a team-high 17 points and 11 rebounds. “We definitely came back out with a different focus. We made them really uncomfortable in the first half, but it would be really naive to think they wouldn’t make a push in the second half… but we finished it off.”
Trailing 62-53 after a jumper by Storm guard Tanisha Wright with 6:11 remaining in the game, San Antonio used a 10-4 run to close within three points. Silver Stars forward Jayne Appel went untouched in the lane for a layin to make the score 66-63 with 13.8 seconds left.
But Wright and teammate Noelle Quinn combined to make three of four free throws to secure the win. Wright finished with 16 points while Quinn had a career-high 11 rebounds — all on the defensive end.
“Man, Noelle, she was in there — big boards,” Wright said. “They got a few (rebounds) down the stretch that we really needed to come up with so the game wouldn’t have been as interesting. But it wasn’t about the X’s and O’s. It was about the concentration and focus.”
Quinn played 29 minutes due to starter Shekinna Stricklen being ill. Stricklen, who averaged 17.7 points in her past three games, started but didn’t play after halftime. She’s expected to be available for Thursday’s home game against Chicago.
Seattle (10-12) didn’t allow San Antonio (8-15) a single offensive rebound in the second quarter. The Storm outscored the Silver Stars 21-9 to take a 41-26 lead into halftime.
Appel scored nine points with nine rebounds and five blocks in the second half to help pull her team back in the game.
“We showed a lot of poise to turn it around (after) how we had been playing,” said Appel, who finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds. “If we would have played two halves, it would have been our game.”
After Friday’s loss, postseason position was at the forefront for the Storm. Seattle is now 2½ games ahead of the Silver Stars for the fourth and final seed in the West. Both teams lost in the opening round of last year’s playoffs.
But both teams are without their veteran All-Stars due to injury. Seattle is playing without Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring) while San Antonio is without Becky Hammon (knee) and Sophia Young (knee).
On Sunday, all that mattered was the players who remained.
“We have pride. We know (Friday) wasn’t something we should have let happen,” said Storm co-captain Camille Little, who finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. “So, it wasn’t much said between each other, we all knew what needed to be done.”
JaydaEvans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.