Storm-Silver Stars Preview
The injury-plagued San Antonio Silver Stars boosted their faint playoff hopes by taking the opener of a two-game home series with the Seattle Storm, the fourth-place team in the Western Conference.
With WNBA assists leader Danielle Robinson's status unknown, the Silver Stars will try to clinch a tiebreaker over the Storm with another victory Tuesday night.
San Antonio (10-17) faces a three-game deficit in the race for the final playoff berth in the West with seven contests remaining. The Silver Stars have reached the postseason in six consecutive years, but injuries to key players have put that streak in jeopardy.
Already missing stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young, San Antonio has played the past two games without Robinson, who is averaging 6.7 assists. In spite of her absence, the Silver Stars took a 70-64 win over Seattle on Sunday.
Shenise Johnson had 17 points and a career-best 10 rebounds and Davellyn Whyte provided 13 points and seven assists while starting in place of Robinson, who is dealing with a strained right knee.
"I'm real happy for this team. They've had adversity in doses and they just keep finding a way to keep us in it and keep us going forward," coach Dan Hughes said.
The Silver Stars have a chance to cut their deficit and gain a head-to-head tiebreaker with another win over Seattle (13-14) on Tuesday. The teams have split their four meetings this season
"We are fighting. They are fighting. They are ahead of us in the standings and we are trying to get that tiebreaker against them," Johnson said.
Seattle had matched a season high with three straight wins before the loss to the Silver Stars. The Storm shot 35.8 percent and were outrebounded 39-28 in their third loss in four visits to San Antonio.
They also couldn't recover from a 19-10 deficit at the end of one quarter.
"I thought the way we started out in the first quarter dug us a hole a little too big for ourselves," guard Temeka Johnson said. "It came back to bite us. We need to take that from the game and look forward to Tuesday."
Temeka Johnson had scored a combined 41 points on 14-of-20 shooting in two games before missing six of nine shots and finishing with 10 points against San Antonio. Johnson did not play in the fourth quarter of Friday's 81-73 win over Phoenix after getting hit in the face.
Seattle is seeking to move closer toward extending its league-record streak of playoff berths to 10 and attempting to move closer to third-place Phoenix in the West. The Storm trail the Mercury by one game.