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Sue Bird for the Win
Final: Storm 81, Connecticut 79
Wow. What a finish at KeyArena. The situation looked desperate when Tina Charles took advantage of a switch to come up with an offensive rebound and putback to give the Sun the lead with 3.4 seconds remaining. The Storm called timeout and drew up a play for - who else? - Sue Bird. Bird took the inbound pass just to the left of the top of the key and dribbled free to the middle, pulling up and sticking a three-pointer with just 0.4 seconds remaining. Connecticut had no timeouts and no real chance to answer. This is just another shot that adds to Bird's legend as one of the great clutch shooters in WNBA history. She struggled during the second half, making just one shot, but that did not matter as she confidently lined up the game-winner.
Bird's three was the Storm's 12th of the night, far and away a season high. Bird had four triples, Swin Cash knocked down three and Katie Smith and Le'coe Willingham hit two apiece. Four Storm players scored in double-figures, led by Bird's 20 and Wright's 18, while Smith and Willingham came off the bench to score eight points apiece. The Storm shared the ball well, leading to 22 assists on 29 field goals.
The Storm has won three games in a row for the first time all season and is also a season-best four games above .500 at 12-8. With the win, the Storm has claimed sole possession of second place in the Western Conference. The Storm will put that streak on the line during a quick two-game road trip Sunday in Atlanta and Tuesday at New York. Catch all the action on 1090 AM for both games, Live Access Sunday and ESPN2 Tuesday. StormBasketball.com will also have complete coverage before and after both games. Then on Thursday, it's back to the Key as the Tulsa Shock visits for the first time this season. You won't want to miss a special halftime performance by local artist Vicci Martinez, who starred on NBC's "The Voice." Get your tickets now!
A Stop for the Win
Fourth Quarter: Storm 78, Connecticut 77
Connecticut has led just once all night, but with 14.7 seconds remaining the Sun has a chance to go ahead. It's a one-point Storm lead with Connecticut in possession of the basketball after Sue Bird missed a pull-up jumper and Swin Cash was unable to secure the loose ball despite working for it. The Sun will have the ball after this full timeout. Look for Connecticut to go to Renee Montgomery, who has the Sun's last two scores.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 74, Connecticut 67
How many times has the Sun gotten off the mat tonight? Every time the Storm seizes momentum of this game, Connecticut has the answer. The most recent 5-0 surge has cut the Storm's deficit to a manageable seven points with 4:17 left to play. When the Storm's offense struggles, we see similar things - the team playing against the shot clock and having to force passes, which leads to turnovers. The Storm has 18 of them tonight, undermining terrific shooting. Credit Connecticut, which has battled and scrapped in one of the league's hardest places to play.
Extending the Run
Fourth Quarter: Storm 73, Connecticut 62
Great fourth quarter so far for the Storm, which has outscored Connecticut 10-5 to extend the lead to 11 points. At its largest point, the Storm's run dating back to when the Sun briefly took a one-point lead was 18-3. Swin Cash was really the catalyst, scoring 10 points in that span. She's got 14 for the night to go along with five rebounds and five assists in a very balanced performance.
Storm Takes Lead to the Fourth
End Third Quarter: Storm 63, Connecticut 57
A lot of similarities between tonight's third quarter and Tuesday night. This time, the Connecticut Sun actually took the lead - the first time the Sun has led all night - before the Storm answered with an 8-0 run. Swin Cash sparked things with a pair of three-pointers, helping give the Storm a slight cushion going to the final period. Still, theis figures to bea close finish. You can watch it on NBA TV or with Live Access.
More Cash during the break, as her Movie Magic debuted. Cash got a big laugh with her line as Doc from Back to the Future.
Sun on the Run
Third Quarter: Storm 55, Connecticut 51
I sense some restlessness at KeyArena as the Connecticut Sun has gone on an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to just four points. There was a feeling, the way the Storm shot the ball in the first half and came out to start the second, that this would be one of the blowouts the Storm has made commonplace at KeyArena. That understates Connecticut's talent level. This team is 12-6 for a reason and has won six of its last seven games.
Yesterday, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler was asked why the Sun has given the Storm problems, especially at the Mohegan Sun Arena (where the Storm last won in 2003). Agler's response was one of those obvious yet important points that sometimes gets lost. The biggest problem Connecticut has been a problem is because the Sun is so good overall. Lately, it's been All-Star Tina Charles who has heated up, doubling her point total to 12 within the last couple of minutes and drawing four fouls on Ashley Robinson, who is now on the bench.
Quick on the Trigger
Third Quarter: Storm 53, Connecticut 40
Mike Thibault needed even less of the second half to call a timeout than he did at the start of the game. Just 1:21 in, Thibault needed a stoppage of play after the Storm scored the first six points coming out of the locker room to extend the lead to 13. That's exactly the start the Storm needed following Connecticut's run late in the first half. The Storm is aggressively taking the ball to the basket and has been strong on defense.
It's a big weekend in Seattle as the hydros and the Blue Angels roll into town for Seafair. Hydroplane legend Chip Hanauer, who was the all-time career leader in race victories until earlier this season, is sitting courtside tonight. Hanauer got some insight into Storm Basketball earlier this week, taping some footage with Ashley Robinson for a feature that will air during KIRO 7's coverage of Seafair Sunday. You can check out a funny preview of the video here.
Women of Inspiration Honored
Halftime: Storm 47, Connecticut 40
The lines at the concession stands are a bit shorter than usual during halftime tonight. Almost no Storm fans have left their seats, making sure that they have a chance to watch the annual presentation honoring the Storm's Women of Inspiration presented by Moss Adams LLP. Storm CEO Karen Bryant and Dawn Trudea of Force 10 Hoops LLC presented Jerilyn Brusseau, Grethe Cammermeyer, Jessica Markowitz and Barbara Trask with flowers and trophies to applause from the crowd. To find out more about these special women, visit our Women of Inspiration page.
Storm Must Pick Up Play in Second Half
Halftime: Storm 47, Connecticut 40
Given the way the Storm shot the basketball in the first half, the Connecticut Sun could be down 20 points. Instead, the Storm's lead is just seven at halftime Connecticut has done a good job of getting the basketball inside, while Renee Montgomery has been hot from the perimeter with 12 points. The Storm turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, depriving the team of shot attempts that have been valuable tonight. The Storm isn't going to shoot nearly 70 percent again in the second half, so the team will have to do better in the other aspects of the game to come away with a victory.
Sun Fights Back
Second Quarter: Storm 43, Connecticut 32
Down 18 on the road with the Storm throwing everything in the basket, the Sun could have started to pack things in late in the first half. To their credit, Connecticut players instead responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to just 11 points. Turnovers - 11 of them in all - are hurting the Storm. Many of them have had to do with refereeing that has been somewhat unpredictable at both ends of the floor.
Second Quarter: Storm 43, Connecticut 25
Another pair of three-pointers by Katie Smith and Sue Bird have given the Storm tonight's largest lead at 18 points, 43-25. The Storm is now 8-of-12 from downtown, which is impressive considering the team's high game so far this season has been nine three-pointers. Bird continues to lead the way with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Storm Still Hot
Second Quarter: Storm 37, Connecticut 23
The Storm's shooting percentage has yet to fall from 66.7 percent as the team has racked up 37 points midway through the second quarter. It's the guards doing most of the damage. Tanisha Wright has now outpaced teammate Sue Bird with 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting. Le'coe Willingham has added eight points on 3-of-3 from the field, two of them three-pointers. The Storm is 6-of-10 from beyond the arc tonight. A lot of these shots have been set up by the Storm's ball movement. The team has assists on 11 of its 13 baskets. Credit Swin Cash, who already has a team-high four assists from her forward spot.
Speaking of high-scoring offenses led by guards, the head coach of the University of Washington men's basketball team is in the house tonight. Lorenzo Romar is taking in the action from courtside.
Storm Feeling It
End First Quarter: Storm 24, Connecticut 14
As of Tuesday afternoon, the most points the Storm had scored in a first quarter this season was 23. Now that mark has been surpassed each of the last two games. This wasn't quite Tuesday's 31-point outburst, but the Storm put up 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting to open up a double-digit lead after one quarter.
Mike Thibault had a bit of a look of "What's next?" after Le'coe Willingham knocked down a long three-pointer to end the period. Earlier, Sue Bird flipped in a runner in traffic out of desperation without really looking at the basket. It was one of the more impressive circus shots we've seen from Sue during her 10-year Storm career, one we'll commemorate all next week leading up to the Sue Bird bobblehead giveaway before Saturday's game against Atlanta ().
First Quarter: Storm 10, Connecticut 2
Mike Thibault could only shake his head after calling timeout. Just 2:19 into this game, his Connecticut Sun team is already behind 10-2 as the Storm has gotten off to a fabulous start. The Storm has been active at the defensive end and is forcing Tina Charles to pass the ball out of the post. Offensively, it's all about Sue Bird, who has been attacking in transition. She's knocked down a pair of three-pointers and a fast-break layup for eight of the Storm's 10 points.
In a special pregame ceremony, former Storm reserve Svetlana Abrosimova received her championship ring. Lisa Brummel of Force 10 Hoops LLC took to center court to introduce Abrosimova, who earned a loud ovation from the fans filing into KeyArena. Without Abrosimova, there might be no championship rings for anyone. Her aggressive, effective play off the bench was a key reason why the Storm was so dominant last season. Abrosimova is taking in the game from courtside.
We're back at KeyArena tonight as the Storm hosts the Connecticut Sun in a game with a heavy UConn flavor. Of the 10 starters tonight, six of them are Huskies. Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Asjha Jones were all teammates at the University of Connecticut, where they won a pair of NCAA championships, and the Sun boasts three other Huskies in the starting five. Bird, Cash and Jones also played with former Storm wing Svetlana Abrosimova, who is in the crowd tonight as part of a vacation in the Seattle area. Tonight, the friends turn foes as both teams chase a key victory. In addition to the great action on the court, we'll pause at halftime to honor this year's Women of Inspiration presented by Moss Adams LLP. For complete coverage, stay with us all night long.