Storm thunders to record win
Seattle Times staff reporter
Basketball is often a refuge for players during hard times.
The hysteria and competitive fire washes away any pain.
That was the case for Storm guard Betty Lennox on Wednesday night at KeyArena. Dealing with a family situation, which she kept private, the shooter engulfed herself in one of the most-electrifying wins in the eight-year history of the franchise. Lennox scored 10 of her team's 31 first-quarter points to bury the visiting Phoenix Mercury in a 100-87 win.
The Storm's point total set a franchise record, topping the 97 they scored against the Mercury in June last season. All-Star Lauren Jackson had the record-breaking basket on a free throw in the fourth quarter and scored the 100th point with 3:25 remaining.
"I thank God for giving me the strength and opportunity to play," said Lennox, who finished with 22 points. "Just to take everything away and allowing me to step out there and play; it didn't have anything to do with me and everything to do with him. I was kind of like an innocent bystander."
Lennox, who missed Tuesday's practice because of the family matter, began her night with a three-pointer, and her fast-break jumper midway through the opening quarter put the Storm up 19-9.
While the offense was key, it was also some grinding defensive help by teammate Janell Burse that kept the high-scoring Mercury from even envisioning a chance to get back in the game.
Burse, a 6-foot-5 center, had 16 rebounds in the opening half, surpassing her career-high of 14. The effort limited Phoenix's second-chance shots to two and helped the Storm enter the break with a 55-33 lead, one point short of the franchise record for points in a half (56).
But even Burse was pulling from Lennox's play as inspiration.
"Betty is a really tough person, and her ability to take things in her life that go on off the court and not bring them on the court are one of the things that make her a special player," said Burse, who finished with 19 boards. "She has dealt with a lot of adversity in her career, but her game has never suffered for that. You can really respect her as a player for that."
In the second half, Seattle expected Phoenix (1-1) to return to the high-powered offensive team that usually causes trouble, a reason Storm coach Anne Donovan had her starters log big minutes in a blowout.
Yet forward Diana Taurasi, who averaged a league-record 25.3 points last season, was stifled by Iziane Castro Marques' defense, only making one of her three shot attempts. The Mercury All-Star finished with 14 points, snapping her streak of 13 consecutive games scoring 20 points or more.
"We did not lose the game because Taurasi didn't have her normal scoring night," Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said. "There were many factors more important than that. We can win without her getting 25 points every night and Dee knows that. We have to do other things — defend, rebound ... it's early."
The Storm (2-0) still had trouble containing Cappie Pondexter, a second-year guard from Rutgers, however. Even when the Storm switched defenders from Lennox to Tanisha Wright, Pondexter kept scoring, getting 21 of her 31 points in the second half to help the Mercury outscore the Storm 54-48.
"The defense coming into this kind of game concerned me and in the first half they really put my concerns to rest," Donovan said. "It helps when you're playing good defense and you get the offense to go with it. We focused on Taurasi a lot [in practice] and probably focused on Cappie not enough. We talked about how hard we have to work."
The Storm travels today to play San Antonio. Jackson hopes posting straight wins to start the season for the first time since the 2004 title season will send a message.
"It's pretty scary for the rest of the league what we're doing at the moment," said Jackson, who finished with 31 points. "[San Antonio] will probably be fearing us — hopefully."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com
|The most points scored by the Storm in a game (all were victories):|
|100||Phoenix||May 23, 2007|
|97||Phoenix||June 2, 2006|
|95||Connecticut||June 22, 2005|
|94||at Phoenix||May 25, 2006|
|93||Los Angeles||May 22, 2004|
|93||San Antonio||June 22, 2003|
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