A winnable game got away from the Storm on Thursday, but a short drive from her college campus, first-year forward Gabby Williams turned in a multidimensional effort.

The Storm (18-11) fell 88-83 to the Connecticut Sun and delayed clinching a playoff spot. There were good signs, though, and Williams’ confidence was one of them.

“I’m seeing plays before they happen and that just comes with time,” Williams said. “My teammates have been really patient with me.”

Teammate Sue Bird joked that she challenged Williams to reach 10 boards and it almost worked. Williams came close to a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, her second-best mark for both this season. She also contributed four assists, three steals and one block.

In February, Seattle made a deal with the L.A. Sparks for Williams in exchange for forward Katie Lou Samuelson and the No. 9 pick in the 2022 draft. The Storm signed her to a one-year, $144,000 deal. She was still playing in Hungary and joined the Storm shortly before the regular season began.

“We’re still unlocking Gabby a little bit. Gabby’s still unlocking herself a little bit,” Bird said after the game. “We’re still figuring that out, and luckily we have a bunch more games to do that before we head into the playoffs.”

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Williams was Chicago’s No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft after a successful career at Connecticut. She played three seasons for the Sky, averaging 6.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals, before a dramatic break to do with her involvement with the French National Team. She did not play in the 2021 WNBA season but helped France to bronze in the Olympics in Tokyo.

The hope was that after a year away from the league and an offseason that included EuroLeague Finals MVP honors, she’d give some bite back to the Storm defense. That happened from Day 1, Bird said.

“When Gabby plays at a high level, we’re better,” coach Noelle Quinn added. “She consistently gives us effort defensively and when she adds an offensive punch, it gives us a huge lift.

“I thought today she was just playing free. She’s one of our players who consistently gets downhill and inside the paint. I thought today, she actually attacked the rim as opposed to getting down and dishing.”

The starters all finished with at least 14 points. There was a glaring head-to-head stat — Connecticut’s bench outscored Seattle’s 30-8.

The Storm stayed on the road for back-to-back games against the Washington Mystics, who sport an identical 18-11 record and have won three straight, on Saturday and Sunday.

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If Williams is able to build on Thursday’s game in Connecticut, that’s another good sign.

“She has a skill set and an athletic ability that’s really hard to teach. As she starts to continue to figure out her spots, it’s such a big add to our team,” Bird said.

“I’m really proud of her for staying with it. You’ve seen it in spots and today was a really good sign, I think, of things to come.”