AUBURN, AL - After beginning the week by dropping its second straight game, Tiger alum Le'coe Willingham and the Seattle Storm responded with a pair of victories and put themselves in position to clinch home court advantage throughout the WNBA Playoffs.
The week began on a disappointing note for Seattle as the Storm fell to the Tulsa Shock, 84-75, on Aug. 3, losing its second consecutive game on the heels of a franchise-best, 13-game winning streak. Willingham finished the night with five points and two rebounds against the Shock.
Seattle trailed by as many as nine points early in the fourth period and overcame a five point deficit in the final 2:07 of the contest to defeat the Connecticut Sun Aug. 5 in the first matchup between the two teams this season. Willingham contributed three points, five rebounds and one assist in the win.
Seattle then avenged its loss from just four days prior by demolishing the Shock, 111-65, on Sunday. The 46-point margin of victory is the largest in the history of the WNBA. Ten of the 11 players who played in the game for Seattle scored, including Willingham who scored seven points to go along with five rebounds and two assists.
The Storm wrapped up the week with an 80-70 win at Atlanta. Seattle trailed heading into the fourth quarter, but out-scored the Dream 28-15 in the final period to get the win. Willingham, an Augusta, Ga. Native, scored seven points along with seven rebounds in the win.
Willingham has seen action in all 29 games this season for Seattle and is averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor.
Former Tiger standout DeWanna Bonner and the Phoenix Mercury put together a 2-2 record last week. With the two wins coming against San Antonio, Phoenix was able to solidify its position as the No. 2 team in the Western Conference.
Trailing by one at halftime, the Mercury went on a 21-2 run to take control of the game in their first matchup with San Antonio last week. The 103-92 victory pushed Phoenix's record to .500, 13-13, for the first time since June 12. In the win, Bonner scored in double figures for the 16th time this season as the 2009 SEC Player of the Year scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field while also grabbing three boards and blocking one shot.
In its second game of the week against San Antonio, Phoenix outscored the Silver Stars 24-12 in the second period to take a 15-point lead into halftime. Despite cutting the lead to 65-60 with 3:41 remaining in the third period, San Antonio would get no closer the rest of the night. The win was the fourth in a row for Phoenix and its seventh in its last eight games. Bonner had an eight-point, four-rebound performance for the Mercury in the win.
Phoenix had its four game winning streak come to a close with a 104-82 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Fever on Sunday. The game was tight through the first three quarters, but the Fever went on a 7-0 run to start the final period to take control. The game turned around shortly after Bonner was injured late in the third quarter. The Birmingham, Ala., native suffered a mild concussion when she was hit in the head. She was taken off the court on a stretcher and transported to a hospital where she was released later Sunday night. Her status is currently listed as day-to-day.
Bonner is 29th in the league in scoring at 11.8 points per game and is 15th in rebounding with 5.9 boards per game. The former Tiger is shooting 47.0 percent this season, which ranks 18th in the WNBA. The second year player is also having a solid year on the defensive end averaging 1.11 blocks per game, good for eighth in the WNBA.
Seattle will play three games in the next week, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. CT, Friday game at Connecticut. The Storm will then travel to Washington for a 3 p.m., Sunday game against the Mystics before closing out with a 9 p.m., Tuesday home game against Minnesota.
The Mercury will continue their road swing with three road games this week. Phoenix will first take on Indiana in a re-match of last year's finals at 6 p.m., Friday. The Mercury will then travel to New York for a 6:30 p.m., Saturday game before finishing off with a 9:30 p.m., Tuesday game at Los Angeles.