By Matthew Roberson
Once again, the Seattle Storm will have its hands full in the midst of a quick turnaround, as the team returns to the hardwood on Saturday at Dallas, with the tipoff set for 5 p.m. PDT.
Seattle (6-8) is coming off a loss at Connecticut in which it made a furious comeback after being down 17 points early in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to one before losing, 96-89. Breanna Stewart was the catalyst for Seattle’s offense, scoring a team-high 22 points to go along with 10 boards for her fourth double-double of the season. Jewell Loyd had 21 points of her own, including nine in the fourth quarter. Stewart’s 8.4 rebounds per game is tied for the fourth-best average in the league.
Crystal Langhorne continued her recent offensive hot streak by pouring in 14 points against the Sun. Langhorne has scored 10 or more points in each of Seattle’s last five games. For the season, Langhorne is shooting 63.5 percent from the field, which is the second-highest field goal percentage in the WNBA.
Sue Bird handed out five assists in Connecticut, putting her at 2,498 for her illustrious career. She needs just two more to become the second player ever to reach the 2,500 plateau, and 102 more to become the league’s all-time leader in assists.
As a team, the Storm has made 46.9 percent of its field goals on the season, the third best mark in the league. Seattle also ranks in the top five of the league in three-point percentage (35.5), free throw percentage (85.2), and assists per game (18.6).
Despite her team’s recent string of losses, Storm head coach Jenny Boucek is optimistic about turning things around.
“I don’t really know if we are in a funk anymore,” said Boucek after the loss in Connecticut. “The way we played felt really well, how we competed and that type of thing, but we have to win games, that is what it comes down to, winning games. On this road trip, if we are trying to do anything, we are trying to get back to the way we can play.”
AT A GLANCE: WINGS
Dallas is riding a season-high four-game winning streak. The team has taken two from its in-state rival San Antonio and has beaten Eastern Conference foes Washington and Connecticut.
Skylar Diggins-Smith has been the wind beneath the Wings’ offense in 2017. The two time All-Star leads Dallas with 17.6 points per game, which is seventh among all WNBA players. Glory Johnson provides a tough matchup for any defender as well. Johnson is second on the team with 13.9 points per game and leads the team with 8.5 rebounds per night.
Karima Christmas-Kelly (12.1 PPG) and Alisha Gray (11.9 PPG) provide solid third and fourth scoring options for the Wings. As a team, Dallas ranks in the top five in points per game (85.1), offensive rebounds per game (9.8), steals per game (7.8) and offensive rating (105.4). Defense has been Dallas’ weakness this season. Dallas allows opponents to score a league-high 85.9 points per contest. The Wings’ defense is second worst in opponents’ field goal percentage (47.4).
The Wings took flight for its inaugural season in Dallas last year but plays its games at the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
In 2016, Seattle went 1-2 against Dallas, earning its lone win at home via a 78-66 decision on Aug. 31. In that contest, Loyd shouldered the load with 23 points, while Stewart added 17 points and 12 rebounds, as the Storm dealt the Wings its ninth straight loss on the way to moving into eighth place in the WNBA playoff standings.
The Storm will be seeking its first win in Arlington. The team dropped an 88-79 setback on the road last season on June 16. Stewart dropped 29 points in the losing effort, and Seattle never inched closer than six points in the fourth quarter.
Prior to coming to Texas, the Dallas franchise spent 10 seasons in Detroit (Shock) before heading to Tulsa for six years. Combined, Seattle is 26-20 against the franchise.
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