SEATTLE – Last year in the WNBA finals, the Atlanta Dream proved that they could play with the Seattle Storm in Seattle.
Saturday night in front of the KeyArena crowd of 9,686, the Dream applied what they had learned in grand fashion, handing the Storm a 92-63 loss.
The loss ended the Storm’s eight-game home winning streak.
It wasn’t so much that the Storm lost, as how they lost that had players and head coach Brian Agler in a foul mood after the game. Seattle got outscored in every quarter and led only once in the entire contest – late in the first quarter for about 30 seconds.
Point guard Sue Bird summed it up as concisely as possible.
“That was a crappy game,” she said.
The Dream (11-12) had beaten the Storm handily last Sunday in Atlanta, forcing the Storm into 27 turnovers. The same formula for success worked on Saturday night. The Storm (13-11) committed 20 turnovers that resulted in 32 Atlanta points. The Dream on the other hand, committed just 12 turnovers resulting in 11 Storm points.
“They force a lot of people into turnovers,” Agler said. “That’s something we talked about coming in. So we were prepared in terms of our communication, but we didn’t play prepared in regard to how we played on the floor.”
Forcing turnovers was something the Dream had talked about coming in.
“We really watched a lot of tape and we’ve played Seattle a few times since last year, so we know how they like to play,” Dream forward Iziane Castro Marques said. “So we just worked on getting things done that they don’t like to do. We tried to get Sue out of her game, because she’s the main person for them. So once that happened, it was much easier for us to defend the rest.”
Aside from the turnovers, Agler and the players were disappointed in the team’s defensive effort as well. The poor defense was evident early on, but somewhat masked by the fact that the Storm shot the ball well to start the game, knocking down 10 of their 19 shots (52.6 percent) in the first quarter.
“We never played well defensively all night long,” Agler said. “We stayed in the game because we did shoot the ball pretty well early. But it wasn’t that we didn’t take notice of that – we recognized that pretty early on.”
A bright spot for the Storm was guard Katie Smith. After a slow start to the season, Smith has begun to contribute more offensively for the Storm. On Saturday, she led the Storm with 15 points.
But always the competitor, Smith, like her Storm teammates was visibly upset after the game.
“Tough night, obviously it’s disappointing overall and disappointing that we lost in that fashion more so,” Smith said. “It’s gut check time. There is no more shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. There is no more ‘oh we’ll get better’ We have to put our foot down and start to will our way to wins and will our way to get stops. We are getting down to the homestretch.”
If only the Storm could have willed themselves to more stops on Saturday. The Dream had five players score in double figures, led by Angel McCoughtry and Castro Marques, who each scored 17.
Seattle was in shouting distance, trailing 50-42 at halftime, but a 10-0 run to start the second half put the Dream up by 18 and the Storm could not recover.
“Obviously a bad game – definitely embarrassing,” Bird said. “There is something about playing here that we have always enjoyed and it gives us energy, and in a way, we kind of owe it to our fans to have a better effort than we did tonight. I think that’s where some of that embarrassment comes in. We always want to put on a good show, for lack of a better word, and tonight, I don’t think we did that. Obviously the scoreboard shows it.”