SAN ANTONIO – Saturday night’s matchup between two teams who have earned playoff berths turned out to be test run for their bench players.
The Seattle Storm (20-14), missing all three of their All-Stars, earned their twentieth win of the season over the San Antonio Silver Stars (15-19) Saturday night with a 64-55 victory.
Silver Stars head coach Dan Hughes chose to rest his marquee players Sophia Young and Becky Hammon for the team’s final game of the season. However, starting guard Vickie Johnson – who retires this year – did play several minutes because Hughes wanted to “give her an opportunity to start her last game in the regular season” for the crowd of 10,153 at the AT&T Center.
Seattle’s injury-depleted squad competed without Lauren Jackson (back stress fracture), Swin Cash (attending a family funeral) and Sue Bird (sore neck). Reserve Katie Gearlds also missed the game because of a left knee injury.
Seattle recently signed A’Quonesia Franklin and La’Tangela Atkinson to end-of-regular season contracts to help the squad cope with the absence of key players.
“We talked today, that we are going to have to sit some people,” said Seattle head coach Brian Agler. “The one thing we don’t have to worry about this team is that they are going to come out and compete. We have proven this over the last few games and it doesn’t matter who’s in or who’s out. We are going to have a team that will compete hard.”
Reserves who normally do not get much playing time started for both teams. The Silver Stars and the Storm both struggled to find a rhythm in the first half as poor defense, numerous missed shots, several missed free throws and turnovers hampered play.
“Some of these players had not played a great deal,” said Hughes “…so it was great so they could play through some things. I used it that way.”
San Antonio fared better in the first quarter with a 35.3 field goal percentage compared to Seattle’s 17.6 percent. Seattle was also 2-of-6 from the free-throw line. San Antonio did not go the line in the first quarter.
The Silver Stars led 15-9 going into the second quarter. Seattle shot a lot and cut down the turnovers while San Antonio had seven and shot 4-of-13. Australians carried both teams. Seattle center Suzy Batkovic-Brown scored six straight points early in the second quarter to tie the game. She finished the half with 11 points. San Antonio guard Belinda Snell was the other leading scorer in the first half, also with 11.
The Silver Stars held on to a one-point lead going into the break, 27-26.
Seattle took back the lead early in the third quarter and never trailed for the rest of the game. While San Antonio had a higher shooting percentage, Seattle went to the free-throw line more often, shooting 8-of-10 while San Antonio was just 2-of-4.
The Silver Stars continued to fall behind in the fourth quarter as the Storm widened its lead to 11.
Seattle’s Shannon Johnson led all scores with 16 points and teammate Janell Burse added 15.