By Seth Dahle
The Seattle Storm dug itself a 17-point hole after the first quarter and never found its groove in a 100-70 setback to Washington on Tuesday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
Crystal Langhorne led Seattle with 15 points, while Breanna Stewart added 11 points and seven rebounds. In 17 minutes off the bench, Ramu Tokashiki added 11 points, her second double-figure scoring effort of the season.
Sue Bird inched closer to the 2,500-assist plateau, handing out a team-high five dimes to move to 2,493 for her career. Ticha Penicheiro (2,599) is the only other player in WNBA history to have also accomplished the feat.
Seattle (6-7) came out of the gates flat, hitting just three of its first 14 from the field on the way to digging itself a 20-6 hole. Meanwhile, Washington initiated itself as the aggressor, knocking down four three’s in the early going. Back-to-back three’s from Bird and Sami Whitcomb cut the deficit to eight (20-12) at the 2:30 mark, but the Mystics netted nine unanswered to close the first frame and push the margin to 17 (29-12). The Mystics owned a 15-5 advantage on the glass in the first quarter and went 9-for-16 from the field.
Two quick Washington (9-5) baskets extended the Mystics’ advantage to 22 (34-12), but Stewart helped Seattle back in it, hitting a fadeaway jumper before converting a tough three-point play on the continuation to trim the deficit to 17 (42-25) with 4:05 left to go in the half. Stewart’s reverse layup brought Seattle back to within 17 (48-31), and Washington fired back with eight straight to close the half to make it 56-31 Mystics at the break.
Thirteen of the Mystics’ 19 first-half buckets were assisted, as the home team shot 57.6 percent and nailed eight jumpers from beyond the arc. Stewart anchored Seattle’s offense in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
In the third, Elena Delle Donne netted seven of Washington’s first 11 points to keep in the Mystics in front, as Seattle never pulled closer than 21 in the frame. Carolyn Swords buried a jumper in the corner to make it 70-47, only to be answered by a pull-up three by Delle Donne a mere 10 seconds later and then a putback to swell the gap to 28 (75-47).
The Storm entered the fourth quarter with an 84-52 deficit but managed to get its bench some time on the hardwood, notably its rookies. Lanay Montgomery got on the board with a layup to cut it to 28 (90-62), and the rookie trio of Montgomery, Whitcomb and Alexis Peterson ultimately combined for 14 points.
As a team, Seattle shot 42.4 percent (28-for-66) from the floor compared to a 50 percent (32-for-64) clip by Washington.
Delle Donne finished the game with 25 points and five boards, while Kristi Toliver added 15 points. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt notched a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Seattle travels to Connecticut for an ESPN2 contest on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. During the game, ESPN 2 will also share a fan voting update to announce the totals of the leading vote-getters from each conference for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017, Fans can secure the best seats in the house with Storm 360 Memberships, available now, starting at $180, available online or by calling (206) 217-WNBA (9622). Packages and group discounts are available at 206-217-WNBA (9622).