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The Storm fall to San Antonio, but may end up being the big winners.

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The Seattle Storm fall to the San Antonio Stars 58-59, despite a career high from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Breanna Stewart could be the prize for the Storm after this season.
Breanna Stewart could be the prize for the Storm after this season.
BasketballElite

Well that wasn't pretty.  The two worst teams in the WNBA went to battle tonight at Key Arena in Seattle.  For most of the game, it seemed like neither team wanted to win.  For the fourth time in five games, Seattle was without Sue Bird.  Previously, Coach Boucek mentioned she was feeling banged up and that's why she hadn't been playing much.  But one could suspect that they may have wanted to rest the veteran point-guard to help evaluate their younger players, like Angel Goodrich.  Goodrich ended up playing the entire 40 minutes in tonight's game.  Mainly because Jewell Loyd actually only played seven minutes tonight.  Something that certainly stood out when observing tonight's game.  Goodrich played fairly well in Sue's absence.  Scoring in double-figures again tonight for a second game in a row; she was second on the team in scoring tonight with twelve.  More impressively was that Goodrich managed to pull down ten rebounds; quite the impressive feat for the diminutive 5'4" point guard out of Kansas.

Even Angel was impressed by her rebounds tonight, "I didn't even know that until somebody mentioned it to me.  Jenna mentioned it, she mentioned it to me on the bench.  I was like, really? I didn't get it at the time and she said one more and you get a double double.  I didn't believe her, really, Career-high in rebounds, really?  It didn't sound right." - Goodrich said.

On if the ball was just bouncing her way - "Now that I think about it.  That was it.  That's a lot of rebounds ... They were bouncing right to me."

The game was close overall in the first quarter.  The Stars led by one at 20-19.  Crystal Langhorne led Seattle with eight points in the first.  Jewell Loyd added four points in the first period and that's all she would contribute tonight, as she would not re-enter the game after that.

Once again, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis came up with another big game.  Despite not shooting well from the floor tonight (8-23), she set a new career high with 19 points in 33 minutes.  Mosqueda-Lewis led the team with 11 points at half time, as the Storm held a 34-27 lead at the break.

When asked about setting career highs in back-to-back games, Kaleena said "Well when you start right down here (points low to the ground), you can only go up.  So it felt good!"

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis on the highs and lows of the her first WNBA season, "Low-lights would be losing and trying to find my way out their on the court.  Highlights - definitely just to be a part of this organization and be with this group of people.  Our team was super close this year.  We had great veterans who really helped all of us rookies with anything we needed; anything we had questions about.  That was my favorite part about coming in and being new and how much the guys embraced us."

The Stars would make their run in the second half, as they would outscore the Storm 32-24.  Mainly because Seattle rested all of their starters except for Ramu Tokashiki in the second half.  Jewell Loyd and Crystal Langhorne would not return after the first quarter.  And Alysha Clark wouldn't have either, except Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis took a bad fall in the final twenty seconds of the game and needed to be helped off the floor.  Clark would come in for the Storm's final possession with 7.7 seconds remaining in the game and trailing 58-59.  Clark got the ball, drove in and took a tough shot.  It went wide right.  Markeisha Gatling was able to get the rebound, but was unable to get another shot off before time had expired.  And so had the Storm's 2015 season.

The Storm finished with the second worst record in the league at 10-24.  They went 8-9 at home and 2-15 on the road.  There were definitely some bright spots from this season.  Sue Bird was elected to her 9th All-Star appearance (that's the second most in WNBA History).  Jewell Loyd has a very strong chance to win the Rookie of the Year honors as well, as she led all rookies in scoring.  And number three overall pick, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is arguably the Storm's most improved player throughout the season.  For the first half of this season, Mosqueda-Lewis had rode the bench for most of it or only saw limited action.  But in the second half of the season, she became a strong contributor off the bench.  She ended the season by setting career highs in back-to-back games, with 16 points against the Minnesota Lynx on Friday and 19 points tonight against San Antonio.

After the game Coach Jenny Boucek spoke with the media:

On her team's growth this season: "We're really pleased with this team's growth and that was our number one objective this year was to find some young players and grow together with them.  It's really, honestly not just our young players that have grown.  We've seen great growth in all of our players from Sue [Bird] all the way across the board, Alysha Clark, Jenna [O'Hea].  I could go down the line.  We're really pleased with that."

On Jewell Loyd only playing seven minutes tonight: "Yeah, she had something bothering her ... It's just not worth pushing players right now.  They have an overseas career.  Sue has USA Basketball.  So if they were not feeling 100%, for whatever reason, we just felt it didn't make a lot of sense to push them."

On the challenges of playing on the road and how to improve next season: "Yeah for young teams there's a couple things that are usually challenging.  One is staying focus.  Usually you see a lot of inconsistency.  We actually didn't see that as much as you would expect from a team as young as we are ... The other thing is learning how to close out games together.  I thought we got better in that area as the season went along.  And the other area is winning on the road.  That's really tough for young teams.  There's a lot of years in this league, where the best teams in the league are only .500 on the road.  I mean, it's tough to win on the road.  There's a certain mentality and mindset and persistence that you have to have on the road, that we were close to, and we will need to grow in the area next year."


WHAT'S NEXT?:
The WNBA Draft Lottery will be held on September 24th on ESPN2.  Seattle will have the best chance to land the #1 overall pick with a 44% chance.  San Antonio will have the second best chance at roughly 28%.