By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm (6-7) and Connecticut Sun (6-7) link up on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT in a critical game for both teams. The game at Mohegan Sun Arena will air live on ESPN2.
Seattle heads north from D.C. coming off its worst defeat of the season, losing 100-70 to the Washington Mystics on Tuesday afternoon. The Storm has lost five of its last six games after opening the season 5-2.
Crystal Langhorne currently has the hot hand for Seattle. In the loss to Washington, Langhorne accumulated 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. She is averaging 12.7 points in her last four games, scoring at least 10 points in all of them.
Breanna Stewart had 11 points in the loss at Verizon Center, giving her at least 10 points in each of her last 10 games. Stewart and Jewell Loyd are one of two sets of teammates, along with Phoenix’s Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, to both be in the WNBA’s top 10 in points per game. Ramu Tokashiki added 11 points off the bench against Washington.
Sue Bird continues her steady climb toward the top spot on the WNBA’s all-time assist leaderboard. Seattle’s floor general assisted on five baskets against Washington, putting her at 2,493 for her career. She needs 107 more to pass Ticha Penicheiro for the No. 1 spot on the list.
Bird and teammate Sami Whitcomb are both in the top 15 leaguewide in three-point percentage among players hoisting at least three long balls per game. Whitcomb hits 39 percent of her shots from beyond the arc, the highest mark of any rookie in the league. Bird shoots 37.5 percent from downtown and is fourth in league history in career three’s made.
Storm head coach Jenny Boucek spoke after the game in the nation’s capital and lamented the fact that Washington was able to get off to such a hot start.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” said Boucek. “We missed shots we normally make early and they caught fire, and once you give a good offensive team like this that much momentum, it’s tough to stop them. But when they’re hitting shots, they’re tough to beat on both ends of the floor. They get real energized and they’re taking the ball to the net every time. All those things add up, and it’s a lot of momentum for them.”
The loss to the Mystics sank the Storm’s winning percentage below .500 for the first time since starting the season 0-1. Seattle will be looking to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the 2017 campaign. The Storm’s road record sits at 1-4 entering its clash with the Sun.
AT A GLANCE: SUN
After rattling off five straight wins to start the month of June, Connecticut takes on Seattle riding a two-game losing streak. The Sun and Storm are the only two teams in the league with a 6-7 record.
Connecticut’s roster features five players (Jonquel Jones, Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams, and Morgan Tuck) who average double-digit points per game. Jones leads the WNBA with her 12.2 rebounds per game, and she grabs 29.8 percent of all available defensive rebounds, which is also tops in the league. Her game extends further than the post as well. Jones takes 1.5 three pointers per game and connects on 50 percent of them. Jasmine Thomas (5.3) and Alyssa Thomas (4.5) are both in the league’s top 10 in assists per game. Jasmine Thomas also drains 46.4 percent of her three pointers, placing her seventh in the WNBA among players getting at least 10 minutes of playing time per game.
The Sun puts up 85.4 points per game, which ranks third highest in the WNBA. In addition to being in the top five in field goal percentage and offensive rebounding, Connecticut also shoots the best percentage of any team from beyond the arc (43.3). The next closest team is the Minnesota Lynx at 38.1. Seattle is fourth on that list with a 34.4 percent clip.
The Storm has a 3-11 all-time record in regular season games played in Connecticut. The last time Seattle left Mohegan Sun Arena with a win was June 16, 2013.
In 2016, Seattle went 2-1 vs. the Sun. The 98 points scored by the Storm on June 24 of last year set a franchise record for most points scored against Connecticut. The 98-81 victory was also the largest margin of victory for the Storm ever against the Sun. This is the first meeting between these two teams in 2017. This matchup also serves as a rematch of the 2004 WNBA Finals, which Seattle won to claim the organization’s first championship.
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