Sami Whitcomb poured in a career-high 22 points and led the Storm to a dramatic comeback victory over the New York Liberty, 87-81.
Long before Sami Whitcomb seemingly came out of nowhere and led the Storm to a dramatic comeback victory over the New York Liberty, 87-81, she dreamed of nights like this back in Australia.
Since leaving the Washington Huskies in 2010, the 5-foot-10 guard went overseas and became an international sensation Down Under.
Whitcomb, who was cut by the Chicago Sky in training camp seven years ago, gave up fame in Australia for one last chance to make it in the WNBA.
The 28-year-old free agent made Seattle’s 12-player roster, but through the first 3½ games she had been largely an observer.
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“I was just trying to stay ready in case they need me,” Whitcomb said. “Those first three games were a learning curve and trying to gather as much information as I could. I trained as much as I can, so I’m more comfortable each game.”
Coach Jenny Boucek added: “She’s done a lot of extra work. Every time I go to the gym she’s in there to the point where I was starting to get concerned — is she overdoing it and do we need to start regulating this because the kid is always in the gym?
“I’m talking early morning. I’m talking on the road and catching her in the weight room across the street. She’s been working really hard to stay ready and gain an understanding of how to fit into what we do.”
Whitcomb scored three points before Friday night. Against the Liberty, she tallied a team-high 22 points in 15 minutes — all in the second half.
The rookie sharpshooter converted 6 of 8 three-pointers and was 4 of 4 on free throws during a jaw-dropping performance that sent the 5,860 at KeyArena into a frenzy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a game,” said 15-year veteran Sue Bird, the league’s oldest player at 36. “I’ve never seen that on a floor that I’ve been on. Ever. And I’ve played with some pretty good people, too.”
Said Whitcomb: “Nothing was really going right. Coming off the bench when we’re down, it’s less of a pressure situation. No one is really expecting much from me. So I just tried to make plays.”
The Storm needed the unexpected boost from the bench on a night when leading scorer Jewell Loyd (16 points) was unable to finish the game due to an apparent ankle injury and backup guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suffered a right-knee bruise in the first quarter and didn’t return.
While Breanna Stewart (20 points and 12 rebounds) slogged through a 3-for-13 shooting performance, the Storm looked as if it was headed for its first home loss against a bigger New York team that established a methodical pace.
The Storm fell behind by 10 points (63-53) midway through the third quarter before Whitcomb launched a one-woman assault.
Or as Bird said, “Sami happened.”
Whitcomb canned four of her first five shots — all three-pointers — including a long-range dagger that put the Storm ahead 76-74 with 7:05 p.m.
“I’ve seen her do it in Australia,” Boucek said. “That’s why she’s here. I don’t know I’ve seen another player that can heat up the way she can. But she’s done it consistently overseas, but we know that’s in her here.”
New York, which received a game-high 28 points from Tina Charles, recaptured the lead when Sugar Rodgers (21 points) drained a three-pointer that put it ahead 81-78 with 3:01 left. However, the Storm closed the game with a 9-0 run to improve to 3-1.
Stewart gave Seattle the lead for good with four straight free throws and Whitcomb capped the scoring with five points during the spurt in an outing that won’t soon be forgotten.
“You dream of it, of course,” she said. “It’s not like you sit there thinking that’s going to happen. But it’s fun to dream.”