Seattle Storm clinch a playoff spot after beating the Chicago Sky 88-74

by Kevin Nesgoda

(Bradenton, FL) – After returning to action on Saturday morning, the Storm made a strong message on the court and an even stronger one off of it. The Storm defeated the Chicago Sky 88-74 to win their second game in a row and improve their record to a WNBA best 13-3. The Sky fall to 10-6 on the season, they have the best record in the Eastern Conference but are 5th overall in the standings.

Seattle got monster games from Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard. Stewart led all scorers with 21 points and eight rebounds. Howard continues to shine recently, putting up a gigantic double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds! Howard has scored 10 points or more in six consecutive games and is averaging 13.5 points per game during that run. It’s great to see Howard get back to her true potential after struggling early on this season.

The Storm were firing on all cylinders with six players scoring in double figures for the team. Jewell Loyd had 12 points and led her team with three steals. Alysha Clark had another strong performance with 11 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Ezi Magbegor made an instant impact off the bench scoring 11 points and Epiphanny Prince added 10 points off the bench as well. Seattle’s bench outscored Chicago 24-17.

Jordin Canada continues to struggle with her shot. But she dished out a team-high nine assists in the victory.

Chicago was led by Kahleah Copper who had 19 points and six rebounds. The Sky had four players total in double figures with Allie Quigley 11 points, Ruthy Hebard 11 points and six rebounds, and Gabby Williams with 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Courtney Vandersloot was just short of a double-double with nine points and nine assists.

The Sky were short-handed in this game as the team announced prior to tip-off that both Azurá Stevens and Diamond DeShields had left the WNBA Bubble in Bradenton, Florida.

Stevens started missing games recently although there was never a specific moment in any recent game where she suffered a major injury. Today it was announced she would miss the remainder of the WNBA season (you can read more at the link above). DeShields has been dealing with injuries all season long and has played well below expectations, obviously being affected by these injuries. It is unclear if DeShields will return to the Bubble and Chicago this season.

Around the W

The Las Vegas Aces continue to put pressure on the Storm as they just keep on winning. On Saturday morning, they easily dispatched of the lowly New York Liberty 80-63. The Aces improve their record to 12-3 just 1/2 game behind Seattle for the #1 overall seed. Las Vegas used a 24-7 4th quarter to take down the Liberty. A’ja Wilson led her team in scoring with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Vegas had five players score in double figures including Dearica Hamby (17 points, 10 rebounds), Sugar Rodgers (12 points), Kayla McBride (10 points), and Angel McCoughtry (10 points, 6 rebounds).

The Liberty were led by Paris Kea who had 14 points off the bench. Kiah Stokes added 12 points and nine rebounds. Layshia Clarendon was the only other player to reach double figures with 11 points and a team-high four assists. And while Amanda Zahui B. did not have a great game scoring the ball (2-11 FG shooting), she did set a new career-high with 21 rebounds! The Liberty fall to 2-13 on the season and remain in last place in the WNBA.

In the third game of the day, we saw two of the younger teams in the league battling for a very important playoff position. Entering the game the Indiana Fever held a 1/2 game lead over Dallas for the 8th and final playoff spot. However, behind Arike Ogunbowale’s 30 point performance Dallas was able to defeat Indiana 82-78. The victory was extremely important for the Wings (6-10) as it not only moved them into the last playoff spot but it also gave them the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Fever (5-10). So if both teams finish the season with identical records the Wings will be the ones headed to the postseason.

Arike scored 30 points, but there was a moment in the 2nd quarter that had everyone extremely nervous. While driving to the basket, Ogunbowale jumped up for a short-range shot and came down on another player’s foot rolling her ankle badly. She hobbled out of bounds and was holding her ankle for quite a while. She took her two free throws and Dallas called a timeout as Arike needed assistance walking off the court.

Besides Arike, the Wings had three other players score in double figures. 2nd overall pick, Satou Sabally, had an impressive double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. 2017 Rookie of the Year, Allisha Gray had 13 points while Marina Mabrey added 10 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists. Mabrey also had a huge three-ball in the corner in the final 10 seconds to secure the victory for Dallas.

Crazy enough, it was the Indiana Fever that had six different players score in double figures but it wasn’t enough. Kelsey Mitchell led the way with 19 points. Tiffany Mitchell (13 pts), Candice Dupree (11 pts 9 rebs), Natalie Achonwa (11 pts, 8 rebs), Julie Allemand (10 pts), and Teaira McCowan (10 pts) were the other players to score ten or more.

Up Next

It comes as a bit of a surprise after Seattle played 10 games in 20 days in the month of August. But the Storm actually won’t play again until next Wednesday, September 2nd against the Washington Mystics at 7:00 PM PST. The game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network or if you’re local in the Seattle area Joe TV (Comcast Channel 10/110).

Seattle will look to get revenge as the Mystics handed the Storm their largest defeat earlier this season 89-71. In that game, Washington knocked down 15 three-pointers and shot 47% for the game from beyond the arc. They shot over 60% from three in the first half of that game on their way to an 18 point half-time lead.

Since that game, both teams have largely gone in opposite directions with the Storm winning 11 of 13 games and the losing 10 of their next 11 games.

If you enjoyed the story and want more Storm coverage, including significantly more details on this game, top plays, quarter by quarter breakdowns, updates on Sue Bird and Morgan Tuck’s injuries, playoff seeding discussion, lots of player and coach interviews and the messages they share about social injustice, check out the complete edition at the link below!

Complete Edition of Seattle Storm’s playoff clinching victory over the Chicago Sky.

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