Seattle Storm clip the Dallas Wings 83-65

by Kevin Nesgoda

(Bradenton, FL) The Seattle Storm picked up another win on Friday evening 83-65 over the short-handed Dallas Wings. The Wings were without number two overall pick Satou Sabally who sat out of this game with a back injury. They were also missing 2016’s number two overall pick, Moriah Jefferson. That forced other rookies Bella Alarie and Tyasha Harris into the starting lineup.

Dallas kept the game relatively close for a little while, but by the early third quarter Seattle had pushed their lead to nearly 20 points and the Wings never threatened after that.

Coach Gary Kloppenburg talked about the win after the game.

“I thought we finished the second quarter really well. I thought we got some stops and then kept pushing the ball, and we really wanted to try and keep the tempo high against them. I thought we got some easy buckets doing that. I thought we struggled a couple times just ball handling, you know, we turned the ball over, we turned it over 15 times, and some of those were unforced. So we want to make sure that we’re taking better care of the ball. Overall, I thought it was a good effort. Any time you hold a team to 32% shooting, and we shot 45, I think we missed several inside shots. Any time you get a win in this league you’re happy. We want to keep getting better in some of the things we’re doing too.”

With the win, the Storm improve to a league-best 9-1 overall while the Wings fell to 3-7. Breanna Stewart led the way with 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Stewie rebounded nicely from her last game where she shot just 1-5 FG and had a season-low seven points. On Friday, she was extremely effective shooting 75% (9-12) from the floor.

“We got her good shots, we did some things and got her some good open looks. Honestly, the other day, she didn’t score but she was really impactful and blocking shots. We got a lot of good effort from everybody else. She’s a team player and is going to do whatever it takes to win. Tonight she got some open looks and knocked them down, you never worry about her. She’s such a great competitor that you know she’s always going to be a force out there and an impactful player,” Coach Kloppenburg said

Alysha Clark continues her best scoring run of her WNBA career with 15 points on 58% field goal shooting (7-12). She also added seven rebounds and three assists. Clark has now scored 11 points or more in seven straight games. The Storm are 7-0 during this stretch. AC is now averaging a career-best 10.6 PPG.

Clark is not surprised by how much she’s been scoring lately.

“For me, it’s just opportunity. People think because you take on a role, that’s the only role you know how to do and for me, my career up until the league, I’ve been a scorer my entire career so I know how to shoot, I know how to score the ball. It just happens to be this year, there’s more opportunity, there’s more shots for me to be able to take and I think you’re starting to see what I’m capable of doing,” Clark said.

Jewell Loyd, the only other player to score in double figures, had a really solid overall game. She scored 12 points (most of them in the 1st half). She also added six rebounds, three assists, and a team-high three steals.

For the Wings, in no real surprise, they were led in scoring by Arike Ogunbowale who had 22 points. Ogunbowale has scored 15 points or more in 20+ consecutive games. A feat that only a handful of WNBA players have ever accomplished; one of those being the Storm’s Lauren Jackson.

2017 Rookie of the Year, Allisha Gray played well scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds for Dallas.

Marina Mabrey, who was part of that 2018 National Championship Notre Dame squad, looked really good off the bench. Mabrey was a great college player but I feel there were legit concerns about whether she would be athletic enough and quick enough to compete at the WNBA level. Mabrey had her best game of the season with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, and a game-high four steals.

What makes the Storm so dangerous?

The Seattle Storm can beat teams in a variety of ways and that’s why they’re 9-1 this season and one of the favorites to win it all as they did in 2018. They have Breanna Stewart, the league’s best player. But they’re also winning games big even when she doesn’t have a superstar type game; like when they beat the Atlanta Dream by 37 points and Stewart only had seven points.

In that Atlanta game, they knocked down a WNBA best 18 three-pointers. But on Friday against Dallas, they struggled shooting from long range. Despite knocking three triples in the first quarter, the team finished the game just 5-18 (28%) from downtown. So when the three-ball wasn’t falling they took it inside. The Storm scored 40 points in the paint against Dallas, outscoring the Wings by 14 in that category.

Jewell Loyd talked about the team’s diversity and ability to score in a variety of ways.

“The three-ball is a really important part of our game but we’re so flexible with our personnel. For me, my pull up jumper is my money, so we know if shots aren’t falling we can find other ways to score. We want to hit those threes and they involved good looks they just didn’t fall tonight. We know if we can get stops, we know if we can get stops in bunches. Knowing that we can stop them and get out and run, that’s part of our game too. We saw that tonight with a lot of fastbreak points.”

The team just has so many weapons right now. Breanna Stewart or Jewell Loyd can give you 20 points on any given night. Alysha Clark is scoring more than ever before. Sue Bird and Jordin Canada are both excellent facilitators and can score when called upon. Sami Whitcomb didn’t have a great game on Friday, but in the previous two games, she scored 17 and 20 points off the bench. Ezi Magbegor has been a strong contributor off the bench every game averaging seven points, nearly three rebounds, and one block per game. And the team can still get a lot more out of Natasha Howard and Mercedes Russell than they have so far this season.

If that wasn’t enough, the Storm’s defense has been suffocating against the rest of the league. They held Dallas to just 32% FG shooting (24-74). Seattle currently holds the rest of the league to under 40% shooting at 38.6%. They held the Wings to a season-low 65 points on Friday.

The Quarters

The Storm’s defense was there from the get-go. Seattle got out to a hot start 15-4. Dallas’ offense struggled and seemed out of sync. They don’t appear to be playing well as a team; which is likely a result of having the youngest roster in the WNBA. It also didn’t help that both Moriah Jefferson and Satou Sabally missed Friday’s game.

Jewell Loyd scored 8 of her 12 points in the first quarter and Breanna Stewar
t added 6. Seattle scored a game-high 27 points in the first quarter and held Dallas to just 28% FG shooting (5-18). The Storm led 27-16 after one.

Dallas responded well early in the 2nd quarter going on a 13-4 run and cutting Seattle’s lead to just two at 31-29. The Wings hung tough throughout most of the 2nd quarter. With about 2:45 left to play in the first half, Breanna Stewart went on her own personal 9-0 run. Stewart finished the first half with 17 points and Seattle led 44-31 at the break.

The Storm held the Wings scoreless through the first three minutes of the 3rd quarter and pushed their lead to 17 at 48-31. Dallas did respond briefly with their own 7-0 run after a timeout to cut the Storm’s lead to ten. Seattle would finish on another 15-5 run to put this game out of question. The Storm led 63-43 after three quarters of play.

Seattle’s bench looked great, especially early on in the 4th quarter. Between Canada, Mercedes Russell, Ezi Magbegor, and Sami Whitcomb they pushed the lead to 29 points at 72-43.

Unfortunately, Morgan Tuck appeared to bang her knee when she collided with Arike Ogunbowale after curling off a screen. She also looked like she might have hyperextended the knee as well. Tuck would lay on the floor for a few seconds before getting up on her own. However, she wasn’t able to run down the court on defense, and Seattle was forced to foul to stop play. Coach Kloppenburg did not have an update on Tuck yet after the game but was aware of the play. They will have her evaluated by the medical staff.

The Storm got sloppy towards the end of the game committing four turnovers in the final period. However, the bench played well enough only being outscored by two (20-22); this allowed the starters to get plenty of rest. Something that is absolutely pivital when teams are playing every other day for three weeks straight.

Coach Kloppenburg talked about the importance of getting his starters rest during this grueling WNBA schedule.

“It’s a nice luxury when you have a lead like that. It’s really good, we can get them a lot of rest, get our bench working together, it’s going to be really beneficial for us going through this schedule. These last couple games have been really good opportunities for us to rest our starters and get our second group a lot of minutes together.”

Both Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd talked about the significance of getting that rest after the game as well.

“I think it’s huge and I think it also goes to our next dimension of what we’re doing, you know, closing out games and giving the opportunity for our bench players to really get some good minutes, get some solid minutes going into the rest of this regular season and postseason and beyond and also us getting that rest. Next game, the turnaround is even shorter than the last one,” Stewart said.

“It’s very important with how this season is and how games are played down the stretch. Looking long term, if we could go in and separate early so we could get rest for Birdy and our starters and just our team in general, that’s so important. We’re really lucky to have really good people off the bench that could come in and maintain the lead and also extend it.” Loyd added.

Standout Plays

  • “Welcome to the W” the commentator shouted out as Breanna Stewart rejected Bella Alarie and knocked her to the ground (no foul) early on in the first quarter.

  • Breanna Stewart knocked down a three-pointer at the top of the key to cap off her own personal 9-0 run and put Seattle up 44-31 right before half-time.

  • Jewell Loyd grabbed a rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. She passed up to Stewart on the right wing. Who passed it to Sue Bird near the foul line. Bird made the extra bounce pass to a wide-open Alysha Clark under the basket for the easy layup to put Seattle up 59-43. It was beautiful ball movement.

  • Jordin Canada made a beautiful pass to Mercedes Russell for an easy basket early in the 4th quarter to put Seattle up 69-43. It looked simple, but it had such a soft touch that floated over two defenders perfectly. The commentary team was wowed by the play and said “It’s just not fair!”

Around the W

Don’t look now but the Connecticut Sun (4-6) have now won 4 out of their last 5 games. On Friday, they upset the Chicago Sky (6-4) by a score of 77-74. Connecticut got great contributions from their starters with four players scoring 15 points or more. The Sun’s frontcourt put up monster numbers. DeWanna Bonner had a game-high 19 points. She also had nine rebounds. Alyssa Thomas had another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She nearly had a triple-double as she added eight assists as well. And Brionna Jones put up 15 points and nine rebounds. The frontcourt starters combined for 49 points and 28 rebounds. Jasmine Thomas was the other player to score in double figures for the Sun with 15 points.

The Sky’s starters put up similar scoring numbers, but they weren’t quite as good. Cheyenne Parker led the team with 17 points. Allie Quigley (16 pts), Courtney Vandersloot (14 pts), and Kahleah Copper (12 pts) all scored above ten. But it wasn’t enough as Chicago lost for the third time in five games.

In the final game of the night, the Phoenix Mercury (6-4) looked strong against the Atlanta Dream (2-8). The Dream continue to struggle as they have now lost eight games in a row after starting the season off 2-0. Bria Hartley came off the bench for the Mercury and led the team in scoring with 24 points and a game-high five assists.

Storm fans may recall, Seattle drafted Bria Hartley 7th overall in the 2014 WNBA draft. It initially appeared like the plan would be for her to become Sue’s backup for the long haul, but she was quickly shipped off to the Washington Mystics on draft night alongside the Storm’s 2013 first-round pick Tianna Hawkins in exchange for Crystal Langhorne.

Outside of Hartley, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored a new career-high 20 points. Skylar Diggins-Smith had 17 points and Brittney Griner added 14 points and eight rebounds.

For Atlanta, they had five players score in double figures led by Betnijah Laney’s 16 points. Courtney Williams had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds! Monique Billings (12 pts), Blake Dietrick (11 pts), and Elizabeth Williams (10 pts) were the other players of note for the Dream.

Both teams were without key players as Diana Taurasi has not yet returned since injuring her back against Seattle a week ago. And Chennedy Carter is still dealing with a severe ankle sprain that will likely keep her out of action for at least two weeks.

Up Next

The Storm face the red-hot Co
nnecticut Sun on Sunday at 12:00pm PST on national TV on ABC.

You may also like

Leave a Comment