Camille rising: Little makes herself a factor in Storm defeat of Sun in overtime
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Camille Little was on the court shooting jump shots with assistant coach Jenny Boucek for about forty-five minutes prior to Sunday’s Seattle Storm road game at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Connecticut Sun. The Storm were coming off a blow-out loss to the New York Liberty the day before and now had to face the first place team in the Eastern Conference.
“I wanted to be a factor,” said Little. “I don’t feel like I’ve been a factor the last couple of games, and I really wanted to be a factor tonight, so I tried to make sure that whatever I could do I did.”
What a factor she was. With center Ann Wauters sitting out of the game to rest an assortment of injuries, Little took on the Sun’s Olympic posts, Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, and dominated the game. By the time it was over, the Storm had an 89-83 overtime road win, with Little had amassing 27 points and nine rebounds.
Little received help from the ageless one, Tina Thompson, who stepped into Wauters’ starting spot and contributed 20 points and seven rebounds of her own.
“That is the unique thing about basketball,” said a smiling Storm coach Brian Agler postgame. “Usually teams have a personality that certain things happen; usually our guards have to play well, and today was the opposite. Not that they didn’t play well but statistically they didn’t play well.”
The guard trio of Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright, and Katie Smith only totaled 25 points combined, but Bird and Smith both hit big three pointers in overtime, and Wright ran the point for most of the game and only committed one turnover.
“I think down the stretch we did a good job of executing and finding the right players that were making plays for us,” said Wright. “Tina and Camille were playing amazing, just knowing who to ride and I think we did that down the stretch. Sue and Katie hit tough threes that ignited us as well. I think a lot of people made a lot of plays down the stretch.”
A disappointed Kara Lawson echoed Wright’s sentiment.
“They obviously have a veteran team and want to slow it down and grind it out, because they rely on execution. They executed better than we did on both ends of the floor. That’s kind of the game they want to play; they feel confident if it’s close or a one possession game down the stretch that they’re going to win it.”
Still, Lawson felt this game was an opportunity the Sun could have taken advantage of.
“I thought most of the possessions in overtime, we got some pretty good shots, but we didn’t make them. We got some good looks and we didn’t make them, and then a portion of the possessions we didn’t get the shot we needed to get. It’s part of a learning experience for us; the disappointing thing is it’s another home game that we lost.”
The box score backs what Lawson was feeling. The Sun had seventeen offensive rebounds, and took 23 more shots than the Storm. The Sun also only committed eight turnovers. However, they shot 35 percent from the floor, while the Storm hit 52 percent of their shots. Storm posts Little, Thompson and Ewolina Kobryn (13 points) combined to hit 22-of-33 shots for 60 points. Sun posts Charles, Jones, and Mistie Mims combined to hit only 10-of-39 shots for 30 points.
“It was just a great team effort,” said Agler. “If you look at the box score and see that you’re going to give up 17 offensive rebounds to Connecticut, in their place? What are your chances? Not very good.”
The Storm have four games remaining before the Olympic break, two on the road (Los Angeles and Phoenix), and two at home (Phoenix and Atlanta). Success in those games, especially if they can sweep Phoenix, will have them in a solid playoff position for when All-Star Lauren Jackson joins the team. Jackson is an impact player that will make the Storm even tougher in the second half.
Agler is excited for the remainder of the season.
“Seattle Storm, we compete, we are champions and we are not gonna give in. Early in the year, we were trying to come together and we were 1-7 and it was hard then we started playing better. We have a lot of championship players in there and they are used to playing like that.”
The Sun now go on the road for five of the six remaining pre-Olympic break games, and they will have to prepare, knowing the opportunity they let slip away.
“We’ve got a very difficult road trip coming up (Tulsa, Minnesota, Washington and then Chicago),” according to Lawson. “Of course the schedule swings back the other way; we’ve had a great deal of home games and now we’re going to go on the road and play some tough teams, so this was a big weekend for us. We thought we were going to win both games [they defeated Washington Friday night], and unfortunately we weren’t able to.”