Both teams got off to a hot start tonight, through most of the first quarter both teams were shooting over 60% from the floor. The game looked like it was going to be a real competitive; at the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at 24.
Unfortunately, things fell apart from there. The Storm went ice cold in the second quarter, scoring only six points through the first seven minutes of the period. It really became apparent that the Storm were struggling on offense tonight without Sue Bird; who did not play due to a Coach's Decision. Sue has been rested more this season than any other previous season and it appears to be a conscious decision to prolong the All-Star Guard's career. This also gives the coach and the GM an idea of what the Storm look like without their franchise cornerstone. We know there are going to be growing pains moving forward as the team rebuilds.
Seattle struggled on both sides of the floor in the second period; having mental lapses on defense and too many turnovers on offense. The Storm were outscored 25-10 in the second quarter and trailed 49-34 at half. They were out-rebounded 19-12 at half. And the Shock had a big advantage from the foul line, 12/15 FT compared to Seattle's 3/5 FT.
When asked what happened after the first quarter, Jewell Loyd said "They have great offensive players. Like I said, we were a little slow on defense. We stepped up to the line early, they got a rhythm and it was hard for us to break it."
We got more of the same early in the third quarter as the Tulsa Shock started the quarter on a 10-2 run which put them up by twenty three, 59-36, with seven minutes left to play in the third. Both teams made big runs in the 3rd quarter as Seattle would go on a 7-0 run of their own to cut the lead to 49-65. The Storm ultimately edged Tulsa 20-19 in the 3rd quarter; Seattle would trail 68-54 heading into the 4th.
Odyssey Sims proved to be too much for the Storm. She was able to carve up the defense and penetrate into the paint on several occasions for easy layups. She also hit several shots from the outside. It was a scoring barrage as she would finish with a game high 24 points. Plenette Pierson also played very well for Tulsa tonight, adding 17 points on 7-10 shooting.
Seattle was led once again by rookie of the year candidate, Jewell Loyd who scored 16 points, four rebounds, and set a new career high with six assists. With that said, Loyd struggled at times tonight as well. She had a team-high four turnovers and missed a couple of defensive assignments. Jenna O'Hea continued her strong contributions with 13 points off the bench. Kaleena Mosquda-Lewis and Crystal Langhorne both added 12 points each.
After the game, Storm Coach Jenny Boucek talked to the media about Jewell Loyd's development playing point guard tonight (with Sue Bird out), "She has gotten a lot better this year at doing that. I even told her tonight I'd like to call some plays on her own. Before when she was playing point earlier in the season, I would give her all the play calls and tonight I told her to try to think through it and figure out what to call and I think she did a very good job. She's getting better."
She then discussed Jenna O'Hea's progression - "She is really evolving from a shooter to a playmaker, which we are really pleased with. She has worked very hard with Ryan [Webb] on her pick-and-roll game, her ball handling, be able to do things off the dribble and not just be what she was years ago, which was probably a spot shooter."
The Storm's biggest win tonight may have been their draft picks back on April 16th. The Storm owned the first and third picks in the draft when Tulsa had the second pick. There was at least a small debate on whether the Storm should select Jewell Loyd or Amanda Zahui B with the number one overall pick. The Storm selected Loyd with the pick and she is well on her way to potentially winning WNBA Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Amanda Zahui B has struggled some this season. She did not shoot particularly well tonight (1-5); missing all of her jump shots. Zahui B did have two nice blocked shots in tonight's game, but overall has not played as well as one would hope with the Number two overall pick.
The Storm have wrapped up their six game home stand and will now play their next two games on the road. Next up is Sunday September 6th at 3:00pm PST against the Chicago Sky.