(Bradenton, FL) – What a shot and what an incredible victory for the Seattle Storm. Trailing 89-87 with 0.8 seconds left in the game, Sue Bird inbounded the ball into the corner to Jewell Loyd who got the shot off just in the nick of time. The ball rattled around for a slight moment and dropped through the net as Seattle’s players screamed in excitement. The Storm won the game 90-89 and the victory improves their record to 15-3 on the season with four games left to play.
The victory was absolutely critical as Seattle is still pushing to lock up a double-bye to begin the WNBA playoffs and the ability to avoid all single-elimination games by finishing with a top-two seed. While the Storm still have a little bit of work to do in that regard, the win gives them a three-game lead over Los Angeles (due to the tiebreaker) with just four games remaining.
Jewell Loyd was the standout player in this game. Not only did she hit the game-winning buzzer-beater at the end of regulation; she also led the Storm in scoring with 25 points. Loyd was vital, especially in the first half where the Storm trailed by as many as 13 points. Loyd’s 15 points in the first half helped keep Seattle afloat and within striking distance avoiding a complete blowout.
All of Seattle’s starters played quite well and carried the team. Despite some more shooting struggles, Breanna Stewart put up a near triple-double with 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. Stewart shot just 33% on 7-21 shooting including just 1-5 from beyond the three-point arc.
Natasha Howard on the other hand was extremely efficient shooting 6-7 FG from the floor, scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Howard has now scored double figures in eight straight games. A welcome sign after going the first ten games without reaching double digits.
Alysha Clark scored eight points and gathered seven rebounds. She also had two assists and snatched four steals in another strong defensive effort. Clark also hit a critical three and scored five points in the 4th quarter as Seattle battled to regain the lead.
Lastly, Sue Bird had a very nice, albeit quiet game. Bird scored 10 points and dished out seven assists in Seattle’s win. She had to play extra time (over 30 minutes) because Jordin Canada missed this game with a knee injury that she suffered a couple of days ago against the Washington Mystics. While there’s no major play that stands out from Bird’s performance, she was efficient with her shots knocking down 4-6 FG including some key midrange jumpers in the second half.
Candace Parker was absolutely sensational leading her team in scoring with 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and three blocks. Parker shot 64% (9-14) for the game including 5-6 from three-point range. She also played excellent defense against Breanna Stewart on most of the plays forcing Stewart into a poor shooting night.
In total, the Sparks had four players in double figures with Chelsea Gray scoring 18 points and tossing out six assists. Brittney Sykes had a very impressive game with 17 points. She also played great defense and had four steals and one block. Loyd did hit the game-winner over her but she couldn’t have defended that possession much better than that. And Riquna Williams had 10 points off the bench including a huge burst in the 2nd quarter.
Around the W
The Washington Mystics (5-12) snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Sky (11-8). Injuries have completely derailed this season for Chicago as they have now lost four of their last five games. While Chicago has already clinched a playoff spot, the Sky have now fallen all the way down to the 6th seed. In part because of their own play, but also because the Phoenix Mercury have now won five straight games after Brittney Griner left the Wubble.
The Mystics had four players score in double figures with Leilani Mitchell leading the charge with 20 points and 12 assists! Myisha Hines-Allen also had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Emma Meesseman added 15 points and five assists while Ariel Atkins had 13 points.
The victory for Washington was actually extremely important because they are just 1/2 game out of the 8th and final playoff spot with five games to go. The spot is currently owned by the Dallas Wings who have lost two games in a row. And wouldn’t you know those two teams will face off against each other on Sunday!
Speaking of Dallas, the Wings (6-12) fell short against the Minnesota Lynx (13-5) on Friday. Minnesota outscored Dallas 47-36 in the 2nd half to claim the win.
Minnesota saw all five starters score in double figures and had six players total hit that mark. Damiris Dantas led the team in scoring with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Last year’s rookie of the year, Napheesa Collier, also had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Odyssey Sims (16 points), Crystal Dangerfield (15 points, 5 assists), Bridget Carleton (11 points), and Rachel Banham (11 points) were the other players to score more than ten.
The 2017 rookie of the year, Allisha Gray, led the Wings in scoring with 26 points. Arike Ogunbowale scored just 14 points on a poor night of shooting going 4-15 from the floor including 1-7 from three-point range. Katie Lou Samuelson added 11 points off the bench as the only other player to score in double figures.
Of note, this game actually snapped Ogunbowale’s 28 game streak of scoring at least 15 points or more. It was the first game dating back to last season (her rookie year) where she didn’t score at least 15 points. The 28 game scoring streak was the third-longest in WNBA history. Arike did reach the 1,000 career point mark in this game which is quite the accomplishment still so early into her career.
If you’ve enjoyed the story and want to read more. Consider checking out the Complete Edition with quarter by quarter breakdowns, standout plays, and several interviews from Storm Coach Gary Kloppenburg, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd make sure to check the link below!