Candice Dupree led the Phoenix Mercury past the struggling Seattle Storm. Seattle Sonics legends Gary Payton, Detlef Schrempf and Shawn Kemp attended Friday night’s contest.
Seattle, WA — Friday night saw the Seattle Storm play host to not only the Phoenix Mercury, but also three generations of basketball legends, as the Jamal Crawford Summer Pro-Am kicked off its season as the second half of a doubleheader.
Unfortunately, a night that featured Sonics legends Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Detlef Schrempf and Lenny Wilkins return to Key Arena, began with the Storm embarrassing themselves as the Mercury dominated the home team, winning by a final of 94-79.
The first sign the announced sellout crowd of 9,686 were in for a long night was when Crystal Langhorne conceded the opening tip to Brittney Griner, deciding to not even leave the ground to attempt to challenge the much larger center.
It would be the perfect summation of the Storm’s effort for nearly the entire game. Despite Jewell Loyd returning to the starting lineup and scoring six points in the opening moments, by the end of the first quarter, the Mercury led Seattle 25-11.
The second quarter Seattle showed signs of life, playing even with Phoenix and outscoring them 23-21 in the period which drew the score to 46-34 at halftime.
The opening 57 seconds of the third would be the most exciting for Storm fans as Alysha Clark hit back-to-back threes that brought the Storm to within six and forced Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello to call a timeout.
“We didn’t come out ready to play in the third,” said Brondello. “Anyone can beat anyone at any given time, but the best thing is we responded.”
Following the timeout, Seattle would score only seven points over the remaining 9:03 of the 3rd quarter. They would be held scoreless for the final 4:03 of the period, as Phoenix stretched the lead all the way to 75-47 to start the final frame.
“They went up a notch and we just couldn’t quite get there,” Storm head coach Jenny Boucek said about the third quarter performance. “There are times when we don’t have extra in the tank, so when these teams are going up a notch, lately we have had a hard time matching that increase.”
The fourth quarter was a tale of two line-ups for the Storm. Over the first 5:53 seconds Seattle managed to score only six points, but with 6:07 remaining in the game Boucek finally subbed in Markeisha Gatling and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The pair were teamed with Renee Montgomery, Ramu Tokashiki and Jewell Loyd for the remainder of the game.
In just six minutes on the floor together, the lineup scored 26 points, two more than Seattle had scored in the first and third quarters combined.
The scoring barrage was led by a career-high eight points from Mosqueda-Lewis.
“I thought the group that was in in the fourth quarter was a very young group, and they executed extremely well,” said Boucek of the late game performance. “I thought they did some good things. It shows the hard work they have been putting in off the court.”
Phoenix, who have now won four straight, was led by the 16 points of Candice Dupree while DeWanna Bonner (15 points, seven rebounds), Griner (12 points, four blocks, four rebounds), Leilani Mitchell (12) and Noelle Quinn (10) all reached double figures for the Mercury.
For Seattle, only Montgomery managed to achieve double digits finishing with a team-high 14 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds. All 11 players who saw action for the Storm scored with nine of them scoring at least six points.
The two teams play again on Sunday in Phoenix.