The WNBA Seattle Storm bounced back from an opening day loss on Saturday to win their home opener 87-82 on Sunday against a tenacious Indiana Fever team.
The Storm opened the 2017 regular season against the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles on Saturday. With turnovers piling up Seattle lost 68-78 despite shooting 52 percent.
They headed home to the KeyArena to what they knew would be the usual supportive and loud crowd to face off against the Fever on Sunday. It was a lift they took full advantage of.
“We definitely used the energy of the fans,” said Storm guard Jewell Loyd. “I mean they were with us all the way down the stretch so it was great. You always want to protect home court.”
With the crowd pushing them on Seattle had to overcome strong performances by Indiana especially from guard Shenise Johnson and guard Briann January who shot 24 and 23 respectively.
The Storm also had to overcome what has been their nemesis: turnovers. Turnovers were a bane during pre-season games and continued against the Sparks where Seattle gave the ball away 23 times. Though they brought it down a bit against the Fever, 20, it was still something the Storm knows they must fix.
“The biggest thing that’s hurting our defense is our turnovers,” said head coach Jenny Boucek. “So we’ve got to smooth out some things offensively but I think our defense…when we get it set is on the right track and we’re going in a good direction in that end of the floor.”
Another area of concern was how to turn it around after a loss the day before. Storm forward Breanna Stewart provided an answer that helped complete the win.
“I think the biggest key was we were the aggressors but also we finished the game,” said Stewart. “Yesterday [against LA] we were the aggressors but then we…let off the gas in the fourth quarter.”
It was a feeling felt by coach Boucek as well who knew her team had used up a lot of energy the day before.
“I didn’t think we played great—we didn’t have a lot of gas in the tank,” said Boucek. “We used a lot of it yesterday but they showed…a lot of toughness to figure out a way to grit that out when they weren’t feeling their best. “
Seattle played again without guard Sue Bird who is day-to-day on her return from injury. This was Stewart’s first game of the season and she made a big impact.
Probably no more apparent than in the fourth quarter where Stewart had a monster block that brought the arena to its loudest and then dropped a three-point shot that gave the Storm the lead for good with 1:40 left to play.
For Stewart making these plays is what she is here to do but getting that extra lift from the crowd is that home court advantage that propels teams to wins.
“When we hear (the fans) we know…alright this is ours, we got this one,” said Stewart.
Also making a contribution for Seattle were forward Crystal Langhorne who scored 17 points and had six rebounds and forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis who came off the bench to add 12 points.
The Storm has a week of practice before facing off against 2015 MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics at 4 pm on Sunday, May 21 at KeyArena in Seattle.