By STEVE HUNTER
SEATTLE (AP) – Tina Thompson showed once again that she has plenty left at age 38.
Thompson scored 14 of her 23 points in the second half and became the third player in WNBA history to reach 3,000 career rebounds, leading the Seattle Storm to a 77-70 win over the defending champion Indiana Fever on Saturday night.
“Her play tonight is just inspiring,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “If you can’t sit there and think about what she’s getting done at her age – the minutes she’s playing, hitting big shots, making big plays and guarding one of the better players in the league in (Tamika) Catchings, it’s hard not to really compete when you’re on the floor with her.”
Tanisha Wright added 16 points and eight assists and Shekinna Stricklen scored 15 for Seattle (11-13), which has won two of three and remained two games ahead of San Antonio for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Thompson, the league’s career scoring leader (7,324 points), reached her rebounding milestone in the third quarter. She trails just Lisa Leslie (3,307) and Taj McWilliams-Franklin (3,013) and is the first player to top 7,000 points and 3,000 rebounds.
“I don’t know what 3,000 rebounds actually says for a career,” said Thompson, who finished with seven to put her at 3,003. “I’ve played quite a long time so I probably should have grabbed quite a few.”
The only player to have appeared in each of the WNBA’s 17 seasons, Thompson has already announced she will retire at the end of this one.
“She’s been amazing all year, I’m going to be sad to see her leave,” Wright said. “At this point of her career and this stage to be able to perform at this type of level in the best women’s league in the world is absolutely amazing. We needed her to play big tonight and she played like Tina Thompson plays.”
Thompson wanted to help the Storm bounce back from a 79-66 loss to Chicago on Thursday when they blew a 16-point, second-half lead.
“The difference for us was the fourth quarter,” Thompson said about Seattle keeping its advantage against the Fever. “Not only did we compete in quarters one through three but we also did so in the fourth quarter.”
The Storm beat the Fever for the first time since 2011, snapping a four-game losing streak, and evened their home record to 6-6 this season.
Catchings had 21 points for Indiana (11-14), which has lost three straight and four of five. Briann January scored 17 points and Erlana Larkins added 14 points and nine rebounds. The Fever fell one game behind third-place Washington in the Eastern Conference, and had their lead over fifth-place New York trimmed to one-half game.
Thompson scored nine, and Stricklen and Wright each had eight to help the Storm to a 40-39 halftime lead. Seattle led by 11 early in the second quarter before the Fever rallied to take a one-point lead late in the period.
Larkins scored 13 and Catchings 11 to lead the Fever in the first half.
Indiana dropped its third straight road game, losing earlier last week to Phoenix and Los Angeles.
“Yeah, it’s been a tough road trip,” January said. “I think though every game we’ve gotten better as a team. Tonight, I think a lot of fatigue played a part, but every team has to play through it.”
Seattle shot 24 of 26 (92.3 percent) from the free-throw line. Thompson made 11 of 12.
Indiana starting guard Shavonte Zellous, who averages 15 points per game, missed her fourth straight game with plantar fasciitis.
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