By Matthew Roberson
Today marked the first time that former University of Washington Husky Kelsey Plum played in Seattle since her collegiate career came to an end. She left with a bad taste in her mouth, as the Storm turned in a complete game on both ends of the floor, beating the San Antonio Stars, 75-57.
Breanna Stewart filled up the box score all night, finishing with a career-high five blocks to go along with 22 points and 15 rebounds for her 15th career double-double. Crystal Langhorne scored 10 points for the second straight game, and Sue Bird captained the offense on her way to nine assists.
“I thought we started to look more how we’re supposed to look,” said head coach Jenny Boucek. “I have to go back and watch the film to evaluate exactly how well we did or did not play, but I did think we got more to how we want to play on both ends of the floor.”
The Storm (6-5) opened the game by playing swarming defense, forcing San Antonio to turn the ball over three times in the game’s first five minutes. Alysha Clark scored six early points while Bird dished out three assists, giving the Storm a 10-5 lead and forcing San Antonio head coach Vickie Johnson to call her first timeout at the 5:29 mark. The Stars came back with eight unanswered points before Sami Whitcomb rattled home her only three pointer of the evening to tie the game at 13.
The turnover woes continued for San Antonio in the second quarter. After a backcourt violation on its first possession, Bird found nothing but net on a three pointer to put Seattle up 20-15. Stewart pulled in her 10th rebound of the first half with 1:12 to spare. A fade away jumper in the post gave her seven points in addition to three blocks. The second year forward anchored a defense that held San Antonio to just 11 points in the second quarter.
The Storm took a 37-26 lead, its biggest of the half, into the locker room. San Antonio converted on just four of its 16 field goals (25.0 percent) in the second quarter. Langhorne was Seattle’s leading scorer with eight points at the break. Seattle outscored San Antonio by 16 points in the 12 minutes when Langhorne was on the floor.
Seattle missed its first four shots of the second half, allowing San Antonio to claw its way back to within six points (37-31). Stewart quelled the comeback by scoring eight consecutive points to give Seattle a 45-33 lead just over halfway through the third. Whitcomb slithered her way through San Antonio’s defense for a right-handed layup that pushed Seattle’s lead to 51-36 with 1:54 on the third quarter clock. San Antonio again managed to make just four field goals for the second consecutive quarter.
Ramu Tokashiki sank a mid-range jumper to extend Seattle’s lead to 15 with 7:41 to go. Following an emphatic block by Stewart on the defensive end, Bird led a fast break that ended with her hitting a 15-foot jump shot to stretch the gap to 19.
In the fourth quarter, Stewart netted seven more points, and Tokashiki swiped two steals to go along with seven fourth quarter points of her own. Seattle was able to coast to the victory down the stretch, securing their first win since June 6 and putting an end to a three-game skid.
Seattle returns to the hardwood on Friday against Phoenix, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. PDT at KeyArena. 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).