It’s official — the Phoenix Mercury had the Seattle Storm’s number this regular season.
The scheduling is ideal, however, for the Storm to quickly get over Friday’s terrible fourth quarter of an alarming collapse. Less than 48 hours later, Seattle hosts the Atlanta Dream at Climate Pledge Arena.
“I’m happy that we are playing on Sunday, just to kind of get it out of our systems,” coach Noelle Quinn said.
An unsuccessful road trip is over. The Storm lost barely to the first-place Chicago Sky, 78-74, then lost big to the Phoenix Mercury, who were outside the WNBA’s top eight in win percentage Friday afternoon but inched into it following a 94-78 win.
The Mercury broke a close game wide open in the fourth quarter and swept the three-game season series. Seattle said it was just the seventh time an opponent had made 14 or more three-pointers in a game in franchise history.
The Mercury dropped 90 or more points on the Storm twice — the only opponent to do that this season. They also gave them their most lopsided result, 97-77 in May.
This was unusual in several ways for Seattle, which led the league in defensive rating heading into the game but dipped to second (94.9).
“I think this was one of those ones where you just kind of throw it in the toilet, move on and give them credit,” Sue Bird said. “Obviously going against the zone for pretty much the majority of the game can get you stagnant and then I think that eventually ended up impacting us on both sides.”
The Storm hadn’t dropped consecutive games since June 3-5. With nine games left before the postseason, now would ideally be the time for finishing touches.
“We’ve got to get better. This is a part of the journey and obviously we’re not where we want to be,” said Breanna Stewart, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds Friday.
“Mistakes that we made early in the season are not mistakes that we can still make late in the season and going into postseason. We just have to continue to develop, continue to understand the relationship with one another, how this team plays. That starts with everyone looking at themselves in the mirror.”
As far as the game’s bright spots, Stewart became the youngest in WNBA history to reach 3,500 points and 1,500 rebounds. Starting her first game for Seattle, midseason acquisition Tina Charles recorded her first double-double since joining the Storm with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“(It was) just kind of time,” Quinn said of starting center Charles, who left the Mercury in late June after what the team called a contract divorce.
“Getting Tina acclimated to our systems, knowing who she is and the help she can provide, some offensive firepower, and (about) wanting to get off to a good start.”
The Dream (12-15, 7th) are coming off an 85-78 loss Thursday to the Los Angeles Sparks. In previous meetings this season, Seattle and Atlanta have each won a home game.
The Storm are looking for a fifth straight home victory and a chance to reset.
“You don’t have time to be in your feelings,” guard Jewell Loyd said. “Hopefully this feeling that we have as a team motivates us to come out strong, finish the game on Sunday and move forward.
“The season is going by very quickly. Games are coming very fast. There’s a lot we can learn from this as far as coverages we should have been in, miscues, things like that.”