SEATTLE (AP) - Swin Cash turned the game around for the Seattle Storm when she decided to attack the basket with drives and short jumpers in the third quarter.
Cash had 16 of her 26 points in the third to help the Storm beat the Los Angeles Sparks 99-80 on Saturday night.
``I thought Swin was really persistent tonight in her play and just constantly aggressive on the offensive end,' Storm coach Brian Agler said. ``She got to the free-throw line a lot, got some finishes, got some offensive boards and played good defense. That's why she's such a good player.'
Cash made 5 of 7 shots from the field and 6 of 6 free throws in the third quarter.
``That's been a point of emphasis the last couple days of practice,' Cash said about her drives to the basket. ``Sometimes when you're not shooting the 3 as well you're thinking next shot, next shot and you can't fall in love with it. You've got to get to the rim and be aggressive. And whenever I'm doing that I think it's better for the team.'
Tanisha Wright added 21 points, Sue Bird had 17 and Katie Smith 13 for Seattle (6-4), which remained in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Rookie Jantel Lavender had career highs of 21 points and nine rebounds in her first start for Los Angeles (4-6), which lost its fifth straight overall and dropped to 0-6 on the road.
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 19 points and Kristi Toliver had 17 points for the Sparks in her first start of the season. Lavender and Toliver replaced Tina Thompson and Ticha Penicheiro as starters.
``We just wanted to start with more energy tonight, they seemed to bring a lot of energy,' Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom said of the lineup change. ``We wanted to run our fastbreak and that's why we started with them, which I thought was pretty successful when they were in there.'
The Storm beat the Sparks for the eighth consecutive game in Seattle since a loss in 2006.
Seattle scored a season high after entering the game averaging a league-low 69 points per game. The Storm's 61 points in the second half tied a team record set in 2007 against Phoenix.
``For us offensively the way we've been going, to put that many points on the board is a big positive,' Smith said. ``We still gave up more than we'd like, but L.A. is shooting the ball really, really well. It was a much better overall 40 minutes instead of a 5-minute spurt.'
Cash had 10 points during a 14-3 run midway through the third quarter to help give the Storm an eight-point lead. Bird, who had nine points in the quarter, hit a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left to make it 70-60 Seattle.
``We just got a lot of stops and we were able to turn that into transition,' Bird said of the third-quarter run. ``Swin was super aggressive. From there, everything kind of just fell into place. The combination of Swin's aggressiveness and our defense is what really got us going.'
The Storm broke the game wide open with a 9-0 run early in the fourth to stretch their advantage to 79-62 with 7:41 left. Smith hit three 3s in the fourth quarter en route to her season high in points.
``Seattle had a great third quarter run.' Toliver said. ``They really broke us down defensively. And they started making shots. Katie (Smith) was obviously struggling but then she hit that first one, and it got her confidence up and then they all started making shots.'
Cash, Wright and Le'coe Willingham (12) also scored season highs.
Milton-Jones scored nine and Lavender eight to help the Sparks to a 39-38 halftime lead. Wright had eight of her 12 first-half points in the second quarter to keep the Storm close.
Los Angeles has lost five straight for the first time since 2007.
Seattle shot 35 of 64 (55 percent) from the field, including 9 for 17 on 3s.
The Associated Press News Service
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