Early in this year’s training camp, even after the arrival of No. 1 draft pick Breanna Stewart added to Seattle’s wealth of young talent, Storm coach Jenny Boucek pointed to veteran forward Crystal Langhorne as one of the team’s most important pieces. According to Boucek, the former All-Star mentioned in a conversation that she didn’t care what her role would be in 2016.
“That’s superstar mentality right there. That’s championship mentality,” Boucek said of Langhorne, who had been the Storm’s leading scorer two straight years.
On Saturday against Connecticut, Langhorne attempted eight shots, about as many as one would expect her to take on any given night this year. Except this time all eight of them went in, and Langhorne finished with a season-high 18 points as the Storm earned a 93-81 win for its first home victory in 2016. Her 8-of-8 performance set a franchise record for field goals without a miss.
Langhorne had the second-most points in the game behind Jewell Loyd, who finished with 26.
“I come in with the mentality of filling the void of whatever is needed,” she said after the win. “We know people are going to focus on Stewie and Jewell every night. I’m just trying to do my part.”
Langhorne showed off her full offensive repertoire Saturday night, using the spin move on a number of buckets and even knocking one down from three-point range late in the game. With two minutes to go and the shot clock winding down, Langhorne nailed her seventh career three-pointer to give Seattle a 10-point cushion.
The 29-year-old forward also had a game-high eight rebounds in her 28 minutes.
“When she plays at a level like that, it motivates the rest of the team,” Loyd said. “She comes out and gives us so much energy, and puts pressure on the defense because people have to respect her. The momentum she created tonight carried over to all of us.”
While going 8-for-8 is certainly an outlier, Langhorne is no stranger to being the most efficient player on the floor. Her career average of 55.9 percent shooting ranks fourth in WNBA history, and she’s been in the league’s top five in that category every year since joining Seattle.
Langhorne contributed to what ended as the Storm’s best offensive showing of the season, one that featured season highs in points, field goal percentage (56.1 percent) and assists (16). All five starters reached double figures for the Storm, which used a 21-2 run in the third quarter to pull away from the Sun. Seattle put up 31 in the third period and 28 in the first, its two highest-scoring quarters of the season.
“We hope to have playmakers at every spot on the floor, and that they play in such a way that they create for each other,” Boucek said. “Sometimes Stewie is going to be more sacrificial, which she was tonight, where she’s cutting all over the place and opening things up. We need other people to make them pay when they do that, and we have a lot of players on our team that can do that. I thought tonight was a good sign.”
“We can definitely play even better than we did tonight,” Langhorne added. “So we’re just going to use it as a stepping stone.”