TULSA — Things were not going well in the first half for the Seattle Storm.
They lost starting guard Sue Bird in the first two minutes with a bad back, then watched Tulsa threaten to break open Sunday’s WNBA game here.
“At halftime, we knew we had a chance to win the game, but across the board, people were going to have to do a little more than they are usually doing because we didn’t have Sue,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “They understood that, I think they accepted that and went out and sorta played that way.”
Svetlana Abrosimova got 19 of her season-high 21 points in the second half and keyed a huge fourth quarter as the Storm rallied from a 13-point deficit to claim an 82-72 victory.
“We had a lot of people making some big plays and some big shots,” said Agler, whose first head coaching job was at Northeastern A&M. “T (guard Tanisha Wright) played well down the stretch at the point, Svetlana and Lauren (Jackson) hit some big shots and defensively we got really solid in the fourth quarter.”
Abrosimova, who averages only 6.1 points a game, drained three 3-point goals in the final four minutes. That capped a 25-2 explosion for the Storm, who had trailed 62-57 heading into the final stanza.
“We finally found a way to play aggressive and stay poised,” Abrosimova said. “Their defense is very unpredictable and physical and it took some time for us to adjust. In the fourth quarter, we made the extra pass and didn’t turn the ball over.”
That was the key, Agler said.
“Shorter passes out of traps, play to the backside, get it reversed — they really do a good job of getting you on the sideline then really flood the side with defenders,” Agler said. “It’s a lot easier said than done, but to get the ball reversed out of it, play into space on the backside is important for us to do.”
The win was the fourth straight for Seattle (13-2) while Tulsa (3-11) dropped its eighth straight game.
“We needed six more minutes,” Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson said. “We changed our lineups and did a lot of things for this ballgame. We have to try to get more athletic on the floor and not get ourselves in a hole so quick. Today, they were able to keep us out of that hole.”
Tulsa finished the first half with an 18-4 burst. Kara Braxton, who didn’t play in the first quarter, keyed the run with seven points. Marion Jones added a layup just before the halftime buzzer, creating a 40-30 lead.
Chante Black and Robinson converted on back-to-back baskets early in the third quarter to push the Shock lead to 13 points, but a trey by Abrosimova’s keyed the start of Seattle’s comeback.
Agler felt a bucket by Jana Vesela with 5:27 may have been the key shot for the Storm.
“She may have made the play to get us over the hump with a steal and layup,” Agler said. “We were down five. Lauren hit a ‘3’ and Jana got the steal and all of a sudden it was a tie ballgame in about 15 seconds. That was the momentum … we felt now we could get this thing done.”
Jackson — who was slowed by flu-like symptoms — led Seattle with 24 points.
Scholanda Robinson had 16 points and Tiffany Jackson scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in her first start since being acquired in a trade with the New York Liberty.