The WNBA Seattle Storm completed home and away wins to give the Storm a three game win streak as they head into their match-up with undefeated Washington Mystics Wednesday night.
Seattle defeated the Chicago Sky 95-91 last Friday after being down by as much as 14 points before coming back to tie it up in regulation and take the win in overtime.
Then on Sunday they traveled to Las Vegas to take on the Aces who were playing their first home game as a new franchise in Vegas which the Storm spoiled with a 101-98 win.
Two big wins that showed Seattle’s continued growth on offense and their strong but up-and-down defense.
Friday’s matchup saw the Storm chasing the Sky (2-2) through most of the game. Seattle had trouble getting a flow going which created a roller coaster performance.
“For us it was an inconsistent performance,” said Storm head coach Dan Hughes. “…We had some good moments, we had some moments we really struggled with.
But despite these inconsistencies, Seattle played an almost perfect fourth offensively and especially defensively which Hughes said “went to another level” that brought them back from a 14 point deficit and into the lead.
The Storm were making the shots they needed including a series of plays that saw Seattle forward Natasha Howard hit a shot to tie the game and then race back down to the other basket and block a shot by Chicago that kept the tie and put the game into overtime.
“You look at (Natasha), she saved the day for us,” said Storm forward Breanna Stewart. “The fact that she was all over the place and she just cleaned everything up. She just really has a non-stop motor and I think her coming to Seattle is going to help us a lot and she’s going to continue to grow as a player.”
The fourth quarter saw the Storm play strong defense as a team and everyone playing a part to get the points they needed to get back into the game.
Stewart rolled in a layup with 2:37 remaining that put Seattle within five points. Loyd hit two free throws to pull the team within three and after two 3-pt misses by the Storm and shot made by the Sky the lead was again back to five.
And after misses by both teams the tide turned for Seattle who cut the lead to two when guard Jewell Loyd hit a 3-pt shot. Chicago added two free throws for a four point lead, but Loyd came back with another 3-pt shot and after Sky guard Allie Quigley hit only one of two shots the Storm had a chance to tie with 14.7 seconds left.
This is where Howard took over. After a timeout by Seattle Stewart missed a layup which Howard rebounded then laid in to tie the game 87-87. Howard then chased down forward Diamond DeShields as she attempted a layup that Howard blocked and the Storm rebounded to end regulation.
As they entered the five-minute overtime. Seattle had the momentum, the crowd and the confidence to close out the game.
“I don’t think at one point we had everything completely going our way, even at the end,” said Stewart. “But the fact that we fought through it and continued to play through it and made plays down the stretch to get to overtime and from there we knew those five minutes were ours, especially with the crowd and how into the game they were.”
As usual the Storm appreciated the Storm crazies and their loud support with Loyd mentioning that part of her offensive output “was just feeding off the crowd and (its) energy.” Loyd finished with 29 points.
Coach Hughes also was impressed and enjoyed the crowds support.
“They (Stewart and Loyd) both mentioned it and I’m going to mention it too,” said Hughes. “I thought the crowd was phenomenal. As we gained momentum, they just seemed to ratchet up with us.”
To which Stewart replied to her coach, “Welcome to Key!”
The final score was 95-91 and saw Loyd finish the game with 29 points and Stewart 28. Howard scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Bird dished out 9 assists. Rookie guard Jordin Canada continued her contributions as she went into double figures with 10 points.
Facing the Aces
Seattle (3-1) went in search of their next win in Las Vegas as they head South, joined by some of their fans, to face the Aces (formerly the San Antonio Stars) who were playing in their first home game of the regular season in their new town.
The Storm started slow and then built their lead up to as much as 19 points before Las Vegas (0-3) began fighting back to get into the game.
Seattle had just come back the game before and knew that any game is never out of reach to get back into in the WNBA.
The Aces kept chipping away and with minutes left they had worked their way to within three but could never get those final points and after Storm guard Sue Bird hit a three with 33.7 left to go that put Seattle over the century mark and the lead to 101-94 it was just a matter of seconds before the Storm had clinched their third win in a row 105-98.
The game saw Loyd score 20 points which made it her third game in a row with 20+ points and has seen her score in double figures in all four regular season games. Stewart recorded 23 points which was her third game with over 20 points and added nine rebounds.
Howard also went over the 20 point mark with 21 which tied her career high while Bird put in 10 points while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis came off the bench and scored 13 points including going three for three from the 3pt line.
Seattle set a few marks in the Las Vegas game besides going over the century mark for the first time this season. The Storm connected on a season-high 12 three pointers going 12 for 26. They dished out a season high 23 assists with guard Alysha Clark recording her 200th assist in the game.
As Seattle tweaks their game and looks for more ways to improve their performance Stewart talked about how the Storm may be finally finding their identity as a team.
“I do think we’re finding our identity,” said Stewart. “I think the fact that we had this many games every other day we’re going to find it a lot quicker than normal…we’re a team that feed off a lot of energy, we like to run, we like to push the pace and just really be the aggressors. I think when we’re like that that’s when we have the most fun and that’s when it’s the hardest for other teams to try and contain us.”
Seattle faces off against the undefeated Washington Mystics (4-0) and All-Star forward Elena Delle Donne at 7 pm Tuesday, May 29 at the KeyArena in Seattle.