Storm-Shock Preview


While the Seattle Storm are headed back to the postseason, they haven't looked anything like a contender against Riquna Williams and the lowly Tulsa Shock.

The visiting Storm try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to the Shock, who are hoping to see Williams build on her record-breaking performance in the opener of a home-and-home set Thursday night.

Despite a lackluster record, Seattle (15-17) is gearing up for its 10th consecutive postseason appearance. The Storm are locked into the Western Conference's fourth and final playoff spot after dropping three straight matchups to WNBA-leading Minnesota, including Tuesday's 73-60 loss.

Tanisha Wright had 14 points but was the only player to reach double figures for Seattle, which was outrebounded 36-20 and outscored 20-2 in transition.

"At this point they're the best team in the league," coach Brian Agler said of the Lynx, whom the Storm will face in the conference semifinals. "They present a huge challenge. But I like our team and I like what we can do. I like our upside and we're going to bring that upside out."

Tied with San Antonio at the bottom of the conference, the Shock (11-21) have surprisingly given the Storm fits, too. Tulsa had gone 0-9 in the series over the previous two seasons before taking all three matchups this year by average of 19.3 points, most recently cruising to an 86-59 road win July 17 behind Williams' 26 points.

"Tulsa has had our number this season," Storm guard Noelle Quinn told the team's official website. "We just have to go in there with the mindset that we can beat them, and we just have to be mentally and physically prepared for whatever they throw at us."

The Storm could again have a hard time trying to contain Williams, who set a WNBA record with 51 points in Sunday's 98-65 road win over the Silver Stars.

"It's amazing, I'm still speechless," the 23-year-old Williams said. "It feels great. This is only my second year in the league, so to capture that at such a young age and such a young player, it's amazing. And I shot it pretty well; it wasn't a bad shooting night."

Williams, who had averaged 18.8 points in her previous four games but shot below 50.0 percent in nine straight, went 17 of 28 from the field and made 8 of 14 from 3-point range.

"She can flat out shoot the ball," said San Antonio's Shenise Johnson, Williams' college teammate at Miami. "She had that LeBron (James) look, that Kobe (Bryant) look in her eye. Everybody moved out of the way and was out there getting it done."

Williams surpassed the previous league record of 47 points, held by Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and injured Storm superstar Lauren Jackson.

"To see that list and my name at the top is unbelievable," Williams said. "I'm just a small-town kid living out my dream."

The Shock conclude their season in Seattle on Saturday.