Storm point guard Sue Bird picked Atlanta’s defense apart for a season-high 12 assists. Forwards Alysha Clark and Ramu Tokashiki both had 14 points.
It was hard for first-year Storm coach Jenny Boucek to name a standout player from Saturday’s 86-73 win against Atlanta.
“It’s a team effort, starting with Alysha Clark,” said Boucek.
Clark scored a career-high 14 points and on defense held her own against seventh-year pro guard and Dream all-star Angel McCoughtry.
She forced McCoughtry into two missed buckets and a turnover as the Storm bolted to a 14-2 lead. Another McCoughtry miscue and her foul on Clark midway through the second quarter had Seattle up 41-23 following a pair of shots at the line for Clark.
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The Storm led 48-33 at the break, shooting 59.4 percent from the field. Seattle shot a season-high 56.9 percent overall.
“She is becoming one of the best defenders in the league,” Boucek said of Clark, who helped force Los Angeles all-star Nneka Ogwumike into eight turnovers in a Seattle win on Wednesday.
“You don’t stop great players. Alysha is making them work very hard for what they’re getting. And because (Alysha) is so solid defensively, it gives our team defense a chance to build up around her.”
With McCoughtry flustered, post Aneika Henry fouled out by the third quarter and all-star Sancho Lyttle not in the lineup due to a foot injury, Atlanta didn’t have a chance against a clicking Seattle team.
Sue Bird easily picked Atlanta’s defense apart for a season-high 12 assists and rookie Ramu Tokashiki also scored 14 points.
“We played a really bad game,” said McCoughtry, who finished with a game-high16 points with seven turnovers.
“There’s no excuse to get blown out like that. You have to give Seattle credit for playing hard … We’re letting people score at will.”
For the second straight year, KeyArena reported a sellout (9,686) against Atlanta (7-9), billing it as “Native American Heritage Night” in honor of Dream guard Shoni Schimmel. Seattle (5-12) also has a native player in Angel Goodrich, who was signed in June.
Schimmel, a 5-foot-9 guard, was raised on a reservation in northeast Oregon. Many her wore image on T-shirts and waved homemade signs celebrating Schimmel. The fanbase even helped vote her to next week’s All-Star Game as a starter, but Schimmel is far from the player who last year became the first rookie to win the game’s MVP honor.
Atlanta coach Michael Cooper told Schimmel she needs to get in shape to garner more minutes.
That was evident Saturday as Schimmel struggled in a reserve role. The biggest cheer was when Schimmel hit a three-pointer with 3:59 left in the game and Seattle up 80-65.
“I maybe hated on it a little bit because they (new fans) didn’t cheer for us,” said Bird, whose team beat Atlanta by 20 points at KeyArena last year. “This year, I’m all about it.”
The Storm concludes its three-game homestand Tuesday against New York at KeyArena. The time at home is the longest Seattle has had since the season started June 6.
Information in this article, originally published July 18, 2015, was corrected July 19, 2015. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Angel McCoughtry was a fourth-year guard, and that Ramu Tokashiki’s 14 points were a career high.