SEATTLE – Sheryl Swoopes has been in a lot of tight spots in her long career, and it was little surprise that she came up with a rare triple-double on a night the Houston Comets faced elimination from the WNBA playoffs.
Swoopes scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and 10 assists to help Houston rout Seattle 75-58 on Saturday to knock the defending WNBA champions out of the playoffs in the first round.
Houston will play Sacramento in the Western Conference finals.
Houston lost the first game of the playoffs at home and had to come from behind in the second game, with Swoopes scoring 14 of her 20 points in the second half.
The third game was a romp from the Comets, who built a 17-point lead in the first half and were rarely challenged.
“We really wanted this game,” said Swoopes, the leading scorer in the WNBA at 18.6 points per game. “We knew we had to come here and win two.”
Swoopes, who was the first WNBA player to post a triple-double in the regular season, became the first to post one in the playoffs.
“We have a lot of experience and veterans on this team,” Swoopes said. “As a team we are playing incredible basketball.”
The Comets shot 53 percent from the field, had five players in double figures and held Seattle to 34 percent shooting.
Tina Thompson added 16 points for Houston.
Dominique Canty added 15, Janeth Arcain 12 and Dawn Staley 10 for the Comets.
“I think that’s the best Tina played all year,” Houston coach Van Chancellor said. “It was a total victory for us tonight.
“It’s hard to believe we could come in here and win two games on the road,” Chancellor said.
Seattle coach Anne Donovan was surprised that her team “just didn’t compete.”
“We got steamrolled on our home floor,” Donovan said.
Houston got numerous layups in the first half, while the Storm were failing to put the ball in the basket.
Leading scorer Lauren Jackson, slowed by a back injury, was held to 10 points, seven less than her average, on 4-of-14 shooting.
Guard Sue Bird scored only six points and missed all four of her 3-point attempts.
She was 2 of 15 from 3-point range in the series.
“This is the worst feeling I ever had,” Bird said. “They jumped on us. Our defense was so bad. I don’t even know what happened.”
After trailing by up to 17 points in the first half, Seattle cut Houston’s lead to 10 early in the second. But they could never get closer.
“To finish the season on this note is not how any of us envisioned this,” Donovan said.
Houston had lost in the first round of the playoffs the last three years after winning four WNBA titles.
Betty Lennox led Seattle with 12 points.
The Storm shot 34 percent, including 3 for 15 from 3-point range.
Houston led 43-26 at halftime, scoring 26 points in the paint and making 20 of 30 shots (66 percent) in the half.
Seattle scored just 12 points inside and missed all eight of its 3-point attempts in the first half.
Jackson picked up her third foul with just seconds left in the first half.
In the second half, Seattle opened with an 8-1 run to close to 44-34.
But the Comets extended their lead to 59-43 on Swoopes’ basket, and scored the next seven to make it 66-43.