Burse lifts Seattle to win on last-second shot
Seattle Times staff reporter
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe Storm rookie Tanisha Wright was just following the advice teammate Janell Burse had given her after practice on Saturday. The veteran had jokingly told the recent college graduate that she should do whatever Burse tells her ... er, respect her elders.
Whatever the reason, with yesterday's game against Charlotte in its final seconds, Wright found the 6-foot-5 Burse underneath the hoop for a layup with 0.1 seconds on the clock to help the Storm yank a 62-60 win from the Sting's control.
The Storm didn't take its first lead until about six minutes into the second half. But after former Storm forward Sheri Sam pump-faked and drove past Iziane Castro Marques and Lauren Jackson for a finger roll to tie the score at 60 with 9.6 seconds left, it seemed Charlotte would push the game into overtime.
Storm guard Betty Lennox planned otherwise.
Following two sets of timeouts, Castro Marques inbounded the ball. Jackson ended up with it and found Lennox, who dribbled out of a trap and passed to Wright in the paint. The rookie guard appeared to have a shot but opted to pass off to Burse, standing underneath the basket on the left side.
"[Burse] was taller than I was and she was closer to the hoop," said the 5-11 Wright, who finished with seven points in 32 minutes. "I just gave her the ball and she made it. That's all that matters."
When the ball plopped through the bucket, the Storm bench burst into celebration.
But the players had to contain themselves, because Charlotte still had a chance to win a game it had led by as many 12 points in the first half. Sam lobbed the ball inbounds to Tangela Smith, but her tip shot attempt fell way short of the basket.
Storm coach Anne Donovan stood and watched intently as the Sting's final attempt failed, then broke into a smile as she left the Charlotte Coliseum court on which she had coached the Sting to the WNBA finals in 2001 and returned to this season with the defending champion Storm.
"The play that caused the win was Betty being able to beat the trap, keep the ball alive, keep her composure, and then [Wright] with the great touch pass down low," Donovan said. "We work all the time against the trap [in practice], and what the reaction is when [opponents] come at you with a trap. We worked again on it [Saturday] and the players handled it very well."
The going was tough early for the Storm (6-3). As both teams scrapped for the ball in a defensive, slow-down game only the Detroit Pistons could appreciate, Seattle fell behind 19-8 on 3-for-16 shooting midway through the opening half.
Charlotte (1-7) had struggled offensively in all its losses, so coach Trudi Lacey jumbled her starting lineup, replacing Sam with the quick Tynesha Lewis at small forward. Lewis came through, sprinting past Lennox's and Castro Marques' coverage to score eight points in the first nine minutes. She finished with 10.
The Sting took a 27-20 lead into the break despite missing 10 consecutive shots and Storm center Suzy Batkovic asserting herself in the paint in the waning minutes of the half.
Seattle adjusted in the second half, opening with a 13-4 run to take its first lead, 33-31, off Burse's layin on an assist from Jackson. The Storm was 15 for 27 from the field in the second half.
Still, it all came down to Burse's final score.
"I thought time was running out, so I tried to hurry up and just put it in," said Burse, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
The Storm returns home today from a 2-2 road trip, going 2-1 in games without guard Sue Bird. The team was able to get newcomers Wright and Francesca Zara playing time on the trip, with both seeing time at shooting guard as Lennox struggled offensively.
"It's been a long trip, but no excuses for me," said Lennox, who scored a season-low six points yesterday. "I didn't perform and other people stepped up. ... That's what's it's all about. We'll just scrap until we win."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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