SEATTLE (AP)—Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler called a timeout with 6:17 left in the first quarter to discuss the dysfunction that led to an early 7-2 lead for the Mystics.
He didn’t pick up a dry-erase board to diagram the next play. Instead, he told his team to get it in gear.
The Storm did.
A 13-2 Seattle run ensued, helping the Storm to a lead it would not give back during a 72-55 win over the Washington Mystics on Sunday. It was Seattle’s fourth consecutive victory after a 1-7 start to the season.
Ann Wauters hit a jumper, Camille Little drove and scored, and Sue Bird hit a 3-pointer during the run. The blitz continued when Tina Thompson scored in the lane and rookie Shekinna Stricklen hit a jumper. Washington stopped the onslaught with a jumper from Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton.
Wauters scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Bird scored 14, along with five assists and four rebounds for the Storm (5-7).
“It was more about competing harder and being more aggressive offensively and not making it so easy for them offensively,” Agler said. “I think we responded pretty good.”
Washington did not. The Mystics’ 20 points were the fewest Seattle allowed in a half this season. Washington scored just nine points in the second period, shooting 4 for 19 from the field. Washington tried several deep jump shots with little time remaining on the shot clock.
“I felt like we were mentally fatigued,” Washington coach Trudi Lacey said. “When our shots didn’t fall, it took the wind out of our defense.”
Seattle never trailed again after Bird hit a free throw to put the Storm up 10-9 with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter. Bird threw a no-look pass in the fourth quarter that a rolling Ewelina Kobryn put in while being fouled. Kobryn’s made free throw put the Storm in front 64-46 and ended doubt about the result.
Bird’s jumper to close the third quarter vaulted Seattle up 52-37, after a ruling in between quarters disallowed an earlier 3-pointer for the Mystics. Officials reviewed the play and ruled the shot clock expired before Wisdom-Hylton’s 3-pointer was released.
The Mystics’ 17 third-quarter points almost matched their 20-point output in the first half. But, it still wasn’t enough to get back into the game. Seattle led 31-20 at the half after an efficient second quarter during which it shot 54.5 percent.
A 3-pointer from Bird and a layup by Little pushed the Storm in front 28-18 in the second quarter, forcing a Washington timeout.
“I think we’re playing better, but I think there is still more to go,” Bird said. “We still kind of have some lapses here and there.”
Former Storm player Ashley Robinson returned to Seattle for the first time since being traded to Washington in the offseason. Robinson received a nice ovation when she checked in with 6:45 remaining in the second quarter and scored two points in just four minutes on the floor.