By Seth Dahle
Seattle will look to build off a convincing 22-point win at home over Phoenix, as the Storm heads to The Grand Canyon State to face the Mercury in the preseason finale on Sunday at 3 p.m. PDT.
With the win over Phoenix, Seattle improved to 19-25 all-time in preseason games, and the 86 points was a franchise high for an exhibition affair. The Storm did most of its damage in the second half, outscoring the Mercury by 14 (47-33) and shooting 51.3 percent (20-for-39) in the final 20 minutes.
Head coach Jenny Boucek and the Storm will round out preseason play on Sunday before opening the 2017 regular season on Saturday, May 13 at Los Angeles, with the tipoff set for 2 p.m. PDT on ESPN.
“We obviously have a very long way to go but we are showing signs, glimpses, of gaining the comprehension, individually and collectively, of how we want to do things,” said Boucek. “I thought that was good, and that will give us a lot of teaching to work with, things to reinforce, things to tweak.”
While there were several deciding factors from Wednesday’s preseason opener, here were the biggest takeaways from the win over Phoenix.
SWORDS, WHITCOMB BIG OFF THE BENCH
Carolyn Swords and Sami Whitcomb recorded 15 points apiece off the bench in the preseason opener and did most of their damage in the second half. While Swords scored 11-straight points in the third to anchor a 13-6 run, Whitcomb played big in the fourth frame, netting 12 points in the quarter to lift Seattle to its largest lead (86-59) of the game. The two players did more than just score, as they combined for 12 rebounds and seven steals.
SEATTLE OWNS THE GLASS
Boucek certainly placed an emphasis on rebounding entering the 2017 campaign, and Seattle simply dominated the glass in the opener against Phoenix. The Storm outrebounded the Mercury, 37-25, Swords led the way with a team-high eight, while Crystal Langhorne and Ramu Tokashiki added six and five, respectively.
“Our defense and rebounding was pretty good,” said Boucek. “Keeping them off the glass, making them take tough shots. We didn’t have a lot of breakdowns defensively, we did have some, but I thought overall we were pretty good for our first game, with a lot of new people and a lot of new rotations and different lineups.”
LOYD, LANGHORNE A LETHAL 1-2 PUNCH
Although Langhorne and Jewell Loyd saw limited action on Wednesday, the duo certainly made their presence felt. Langhorne netted 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting and snagged six boards, while Loyd tallied 14 points – all of which came in the first 11 minutes of the game.
DEFENSE LEADS TO OFFENSE
The Storm forced 23 Mercury turnovers on Wednesday, which ultimately translated into 29 points. As a team, Seattle had 11 steals, as Whitcomb led the way with four takeaways.
DEPTH AT THE POINT GUARD POSITION
Seattle saw a variety of looks on the hardwood against the Mercury, including a mix of newcomer Jennifer O’Neill and rookie Alexis Peterson at the point guard position. O’Neill got the start and registered a team-high five assists, while Peterson came off the bench to chip in six points and three dimes.