Seattle Storm's Defense Holds Off San Antonio Silver Stars At KeyArena

The Seattle Storm host the San Antonio Silver Stars at KeyArena for a WNBA Breast Health Awareness Week game at 7 p.m. PST for the third game of their tied series. The second-place Silver Stars will be without the services of All-Star rookie forward who is out 4-6 weeks with a foot injury. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. PST and available online at WNBA LiveAccess. For more on the Storm and the WNBA, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars: Solid Defense Helps Storm Win 78-64

It sounds strange to say that a team "hung on" to win by 14, but in a way the Seattle Storm did exactly that in their 78-64 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars tonight at KeyArena.

After establishing an 11 point halftime lead, the Silver Stars cut the lead to just one point with 1:06 left in the third quarter, during which the Storm fell into a bad habits with five turnovers and shooting only 37.5 percent from the field due to settling for jumpers against an increasingly confident defense.

"There was a lot of concern," said Storm coach Brian Agler about their third quarter performance. "They're a good team and they've come back before. But we hung in there and you could see us digging down pretty deep at that point. You could see the emotion coming out. We made a couple of defensive stands and got the lead back to seven, eight, nine. It didn't stay at one for real long."

The Storm complemented a renewed focus on defense with the type of offensive aggression that seems to separate all of their best moments. After seemingly finding their way with aggressive plays by both Le'coe Willingham and Tanisha Wright in the final minute, Sue Bird capped off a 7-0 run to finish the quarter with a pull dagger from beyond the 3-point arc 0.5 seconds left.

"Yeah, that's kind of a momentum thing," said Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon, who continued to shoot well with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting. "It gives them a lot of energy and for us it's deflating. We just had a couple lapses. (Bird) is their primary go-to player - you have to find her and know where she is at all times. She's capable of hitting big shots. Hopefully we'll learn and move on."

And then in the fourth quarter it was all about defense.

The Storm held the Silver Stars scoreless for the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, extended the run they began at the end of the third to 17-2 and finally managed to put the game out of reach for good. The Storm's swarming defense held the Silver Stars to 29.4 percent shooting in the final period and managed to make a normally fluid Silver Stars defense look erratic.

"They were running some pick-and-rolls that were putting us in rotations and they were able to create out of that," said Bird, diagnosing the problem they needed to solve defensively. "For us, we just said, "We need to get this guarded and get this done." And we definitely did that."

Bird will grab headlines again for her game-high 17 points, but Wright deserves ample credit for handling the ball and remaining aggressive throughout the game to keep the Storm in front. She finished with 12 points, a game-high seven assists, and three key steals while Swin Cash was one rebound off a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds.

"Tanisha made some big plays," said Bird. "We actually fed her in the post a few times. We've been getting better in those situations because we're able to read the situation. Tanisha has the height advantage over Becky so we wanted to take advantage of that with pick and rolls. That's just us getting more comfortable with each other."

The Silver Stars had four players in double figures with Scholanda Robinson leading the way with a season-high 12 points in a much better performance than their 73-55 loss to the Storm in their last trip to Seattle. But the Storm's defensive effort was just too much to overcome once again in KeyArena, where the Storm have won their last six games by an average of 13.8 ppg.

"It's always nice to be home," said Wright. "You play in front of your own fans and you have the comfort of being in your own house, sleeping in your own bed, that makes a big difference. I don't care what team you play."

With the win, Seattle moved into a tie with the Phoenix Mercury for third in the Western Conference, a half-game behind San Antonio over whom they have a 2-1 season series lead.

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars Halftime Score: Storm Take 44-33 Lead

The Seattle Storm used 82.4 percent shooting to seemingly demoralize the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars at KeyArena.

But just as significant as the Storm's hot start is the Silver Stars finding a way to play them even in the second quarter and head into the locker room only 44-33.

After using their hot shooting to mount a 31-19 lead after one quarter, the Storm fell victim to familiar problems. They turned the ball over on nearly 30% of their possessions, got beat on the offensive boards by a typically poor rebounding Silver Stars team and began settling for jumpers rather than attacking the basket.

But on the bright side, they're getting a far more balanced performance that they have sometimes gotten against quality opponents. Although forward Swin Cash is leading the way with 10 points, seven of the eight players that got in the game scored and for all that hot shooting Sue Bird only had five points and four assists. Tanisha Wright was impressive as well as a distributor with a game-high six assists.

Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon continued her hot shooting with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting, but Scholanda Robinson's long range shooting is arguably what kept the visitors in the game with a team-high 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

The Silver Stars have yet to play their most fluid basketball so the Storm will have to continue playing the defense that helped them hold them to 31.1 percent shooting in the second quarter.

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Seattle Storm Vs. San Antonio Silver Stars: Another Chance To Gain Ground In The Standings

The Seattle Storm host the San Antonio Silver Stars at KeyArena for a WNBA Breast Health Awareness Week game at 7 p.m. PST for the third game of their tied series.

The second-place Silver Stars will be without the services of All-Star rookie forward who is out 4-6 weeks with a foot injury.

The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. PST and available online at WNBA LiveAccess.

For more on the Storm and the WNBA, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.

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