Stricklen scores 19, Storm roll by Stars 88-67

The Associated PressJuly 11, 2014 

— The Seattle Storm turned the raw emotion of a humiliating loss into the catalyst for a feel-good victory.

Shekinna Stricklen scored a season-high 19 points, and the Storm rolled to an 88-67 victory over the San Antonio Stars on Friday night.

Seattle led by as many as 21 points and held a double-digit lead throughout the second half for only its second win in five games.

The lopsided victory came two days after the Storm trailed by as many as 30 points in a 78-58 loss at Phoenix.

"Sometimes a loss like that really gets your attention," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "If we would have lost by a couple of points, we probably would have felt better coming out of there and we might not have addressed some issues that needed to be addressed. Taking a loss like that and they expose you on certain things, it got our attention."

Agler told the Storm during a team meeting Thursday that they needed to return to their identity as a defensive-minded team, and they did so against the Stars.

Seattle forced 13 turnovers, which resulted in 19 points, and held San Antonio to 15 percent shooting in the third quarter.

"Historically speaking, we've been one of the better defensive teams," Storm point guard Sue Bird said. "Defense is something that we thrive off of and we focus on. When we play good defense we want that to lead to offense."

Crystal Langhorne scored 16 points, Bird added 14 and Camille Little 10 for Seattle (9-13), which won its second straight game in San Antonio.

"Coming off a loss, we were just coming in focused," Stricklen said. "Just being ready to play and it just happened to them."

Kayla McBride had 13 points to lead the Stars (11-10), and Danielle Robinson and Shameka Christon scored 10 points each.

Seattle struggled early against San Antonio's defense, opening the game with 3-for-11 shooting.

"They do a good job of changing their defenses," Agler said. "They'll play man and then they'll go to zone. They switch them up. We played them a couple of weeks ago at our place and lost in overtime and they did a really good job of sort of keeping us off track that way. We knew what we were facing coming in that we were going to see changing defenses."

The Storm beat the pressure by pushing the tempo, closing the quarter by shooting 6 for 7 in a 9-2 run.

Stricklen raced down the court for a layup just before the buzzer to give Seattle a 20-19 lead. She hit a 19-foot jumper and had another fast-break layup as part of a 7-0 run to open the second quarter.

With their offense back in sync, the Storm turned up their defensive pressure, going on a 14-0 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 27-19 lead.

Stricklen was 2 for 4 on 3s in the second quarter, scoring 12 points during the period in helping Seattle outscore San Antonio 27-12.

"I felt good," Stricklen said. "I was just focused and just having fun and not thinking so much and just playing the game."

Temeka Johnson's 3-pointer extended the Storm's lead to 32-23.

Seattle was 9 for 21 on 3s, including Stricklen's 3-for-6 shooting.

"We just seemed a step behind everything," Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "Makeable shots we turned into unmakeable shots. It was a tough night for the Stars, but you have to give the Storm credit. I thought they were very efficient, made shots, really hurt us on 3(-pointers)."

San Antonio was 2 for 13 in the third quarter.

Following Robinson's 10-foot jumper at the 7:15 mark, the Stars did not score again in the third until Shenise Johnson's 3-pointer with 37.9 seconds remaining.

San Antonio pulled within 61-73 on a four-point play off a foul committed against Christon under the basket on a 3-pointer by Jayne Appel. Seattle responded with a 9-2 run to close out the victory.

"We just have to get back on track," Robinson said. "Obviously, we know how it feels when we do it right. We just have to remember that feeling and get back to it in Phoenix (on Sunday)."

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