Storm coach Brian Agler opted to bench All-Stars Sue Bird and Crystal Langhorne in favor of a shutdown lineup for the fourth quarter of their previous game and the result was Seattle's biggest win of the season.
After his tactic worked with WNBA leading scorer Maya Moore, Agler could use a similar approach Tuesday night when the Storm open a four-game trip against high-scoring Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky.
Trailing by seven entering the final quarter against the unbeaten and defending champion Minnesota Lynx on Friday, Agler went with a lineup focused on stopping Moore despite Bird's season-high 10 assists and Langhorne's 13 points after three quarters.
Moore came in averaging 27.6 points but had only two in the fourth against Seattle (3-6), which held on for a 65-62 win after Tanisha Wright hit two free throws with 10.3 seconds remaining. Moore finished with 12 points.
"That group out there just played so instinctual defensively," Agler said. "I thought our defensive efforts in the second half were really on task. They made a lot of good decisions. I'm proud of our players. Hopefully we can build on that."
Wright scored 13 points to help the Storm win for the second time in three games after dropping five of their first six.
"We've had a lot of close games where we didn't close it out, or we were in position to win and gave it away," said Camille Little, who added 12 points. "I think we really wanted to focus on closing the game."
The focus now shifts to carrying that defensive effort into this contest while trying to force Delle Donne into another off night.
After scoring a career-high 33 points in Friday's 102-88 loss to Los Angeles, Delle Donne had a season-low seven and shot just 3 of 10 from the field in Saturday's 97-59 loss to Atlanta. She ranks second to Moore with a 22.3 scoring average.
The Sky (5-3) dropped out of sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with the back-to-back losses and were held to a season low for points against the Dream. Allie Quigley scored a team-high 11 off the bench, while Jessica Breland added 10.
"We just never got out of the gate," coach Pokey Chatman said.
Epiphanny Prince, who took a sabbatical from the Sky citing fatigue, scored seven points in nine minutes off the bench in her first appearance of the season. The guard averaged 15.0 points last season, and she'll likely be eased into her normal starting role as she gets back into game shape.
Chatman has used the same starting lineup for all eight games this season - Delle Donne, Breland, Courtney Vandersloot, Sasha Goddlett and Tamera Young - and it's unclear who will be the odd woman out when Prince gets back into the first five.
These teams split two meetings last season, with each club winning on the road.
- Sports & Recreation
- Elena Delle Donne
- Maya Moore
- Brian Agler
- Chicago Sky
- Crystal Langhorne