TULSA, Okla. – Seattle coach Brian Agler noticed the upsets Tulsa posted against Los Angeles and Connecticut last month and was adamant the Storm wouldn’t succumb to the same fate.
He really didn’t need to worry.
Point guard Sue Bird, whom Agler calls “the best point guard in the world,” buried a 3-pointer with 37.4 seconds remaining and Seattle staved off the upset with a 78-72 victory in front of 6,117 fans at the BOK Center Friday night.
“It’s in my contract, he has to say that,” Bird joked after the game. “Seriously, it was a very scrappy game. We had the lead and Tulsa made a run to cut it to four points. It was a pressure situation.
“I came off a pick-and-roll, got a good look and shot the ball. I knew once it went in, it was probably going to seal the game.
“Tulsa was relentless and that shot was the dagger. Tulsa has improved a ton.”
Bird finished with 21 points.
“That’s Sue Bird,” Agler said. “I’ve seen her do this so much, but still I’m amazed at how clutch she is. She’s done this multiple times. She took the game over when she had to and that’s the difference in her.”
Agler had warned his team that Tulsa (3-27) wouldn’t roll over.
“We played Tulsa at home earlier in August, the game before they won two straight,” he said. “I told my team (Tulsa) isn’t going to make the playoffs, but they were going to impact the playoffs. They have impacted the playoffs and I don’t think they are quite done yet.”
Lauren Jackson scored 20 points for Seattle and Swin Cash added 12.
Tulsa forward Jennifer Lacy tied her career-high of 18 points, hitting a personal-best four 3-pointers. Amber Holt added 17 points.
The Shock were without injured point guard Ivory Latta and called on veteran Sheryl Swoopes and Holt to fill in.
The 40-year-old Swoopes played 36:49 and had only one turnover at the point.