Jewell Loyd Scores Game-High 23 Points; Seattle’s Record Stands at 11-16
After an even battle through three quarters, the Seattle Storm doubled up the Dallas Wings in the final frame to earn a 78-66 win on Wednesday at KeyArena. The Storm improves to 11-16 and is now alone in the eighth and final playoff spot with seven games remaining.
The game was tied at 54 heading into the fourth, and the Wings took their first lead of the game on the opening basket of the quarter. But Jewell Loyd scored 11 of her game-high 23 points down the stretch, and the Storm would ultimately outscore Dallas 19-7 in the final six minutes. Seattle got defensive stops on 10 out of 11 possessions late in the quarter to secure the victory.
“Tonight’s win means a lot,” Loyd said. “I think it just shows how tough and how much better we’ve gotten since the beginning of the season and there have been a lot of close games where we’ve missed box outs or we didn’t finish. Today we just really locked in. They went on a run and we just kept focused and kept talking to each other. That communication let us build confidence and finish it out.”
Now 2-1 since the Olympic break, the Storm has surpassed its win total from last season and is three games ahead of Dallas in the loss column. In addition to Loyd’s 23 points, rookie Breanna Stewart had 17 points and 12 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Sue Bird scored 13 points on 3-of-7 three-point shooting and Crystal Langhorne had 12 points, her third straight game in double figures.
The Storm started hot from the field, taking a 14-7 lead less than five minutes into the game on one of Loyd’s early layups. Loyd and Stewart each scored six of Seattle’s first 18 points, and they had eight apiece when the Storm led 26-13 at the end of the first quarter. The opening frame featured one of the duo’s signature alley-oop layups, with Loyd on the receiving end of a pass from Stewart.
It was a low-scoring second quarter, but the Storm maintained its edge through solid defense. Dallas finished the first half shooting just 35.1 percent, but scored on three straight possessions late in the second frame to stay within striking distance. Stewart and Loyd were both in double figures with 10 points, and Langhorne had eight as the Storm held a 41-30 lead at the break.
Dallas started the second half on a 10-2 run, capped off by an Odyssey Sims jumper. The Storm missed eight of its first nine shots to open the half. Back-to-back buckets by Langhorne gave Seattle a boost, but Aerial Powers came off the bench to score seven straight points and keep Dallas within a couple of possessions. After scoring 26 in the first quarter, the Storm combined to score 28 in the next two periods, resulting in a 54-54 tie.
“This was a really weird game,” Bird said. “It didn’t ever feel like there was much of a flow to it on either side. There was a little bit at the beginning, obviously a little for them in the third quarter, but other than that it was just a grind out game. In the past we haven’t been successful when the game is played that way, but tonight I think we showed a ton of resilience; especially since we started the second half so poorly.”
The Storm will next head out on a four-game road trip that begins Friday at Chicago and concludes Sept. 9 at Washington, the team Seattle is currently tied with for the final playoff spot.
Bird said after the match, “This was a big game. Because it’s at home, because it’s against a team that, if we would have lost, would have had the tie-breaker on us, also a team that is trying to get that last playoff spot as well. This one was big. Every game is big, but this one was just as important as any other game.”