Alysha Clark Scores Career-High 20 Points as Seattle Drops to 1-2
Despite a career-high 20 points from forward Alysha Clark, the Seattle Storm fell 78-71 to the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx in front of 9,686 fans at KeyArena in its home opener on Sunday.
Coming off its first victory of the season on Friday, the Storm (1-2) started with a stellar first quarter on Sunday, outscoring Minnesota 24-19 with rookie forward Breanna “Stewie” Stewart leading the way with nine points. After scoring four points combined in the first two games, Clark had seven in the first quarter and would go on to pass her previous career high of 14 early in the fourth quarter.
Storm Head Coach Jenny Boucek said of Stewie: “It’s been fun watching Stewie, she goes from Candice Parker, to Brittney Griner, to now Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson, and on one point she was on Maya Moore when they went small. Just to see her really attacking every challenge, excited about every challenge. Whether it’s an individual or a team challenge, you’re seeing why she’s so great, and why she will be so great.”
Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve said they were just glad to win Seattle.
“It’s what we expected in a home opener. Seattle is one of the more difficult places to come to on a home opener,” Reeve said. “I thought there were times when both teams played really well – great runs back and forth. Then for us, I think we shot 32 percent in the second half, but to still find a way to win the game on the road in a really tough place is what we’re proud of. We made some big plays, made some big stops and ultimately, winning here is really hard so we’re pleased.”
Bird said she wasn’t interested in discussing what the team’s recent losses meant for the team.
“We’re not worried about messages being sent, after the L.A. game we started focusing on ourselves,” she said. “We always go in respecting our opponent and scouting our opponent but we need to get better. We needed to get better; and that’s really what our focus has been, just continuing to get better offensively, defensively, and develop that chemistry. We want to be Minnesota someday and have that identity where they know exactly what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and when they’re doing it.”
The Lynx (3-0) went on a 9-0 run early in the second quarter behind former MVP Maya Moore, who didn’t take a shot in the first quarter but exploded for 10 in the second. Moore scored seven points in a two-minute span to help Minnesota build a narrow lead that it would hold onto for the rest of the night. Moore, who entered Sunday’s game at second in the WNBA in points per game behind Seattle’s Jewell Loyd, finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-15 field goals.
Stewart finished with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while Loyd added 14 points and Sue Bird notched 12 points with nine assists. Sunday’s game marked the second straight contest that four Seattle players reached double figures.
“I thought for the most part we did a good job rebounding,” Stewie said. “Obviously at the end there were some that we needed but just couldn’t get, but we’ll do better next time.”
It was a very slow start to the second half for both teams, as Seattle and Minnesota combined for just 18 points in the third quarter. The Lynx led 54-51 heading into the final period, and point guard Lindsay Whalen led the way in the fourth quarter with seven points to help Minnesota hold on for its third straight victory to start the season.
The Lynx were held to by far their lowest scoring output of the season, as they had put up 97 and 95 points in their first two games.
“I think it was good for us to show the competitive nature that we have. Obviously they’re the reigning champs so you have no choice but to step up and play,” Storm Forward Alysha Clark said. “I think it was a good test for us coming off the win in Phoenix to see how we were going to act. I think we fought really hard down the stretch, obviously not the outcome we wanted, but we made them work for everything and that’s something we can take and learn from for the next game.”
Seattle has two more home games this week, starting with a Thursday night matchup with the Washington Mystics. The Storm then hosts the Connecticut Sun on Saturday, with both games tipping off at 7 p.m. PT.