If you start noticing more trees around Washington, you can thank the Seattle Storm.
Seattle is in partnership with Carter Subaru to plant a tree for every three-point shot they make and after last Tuesday’s record-setting win against the visiting Las Vegas Aces, they’ll be planting for a long time.
The Storm defeated the Aces 101-74 and in the process connected on 17 three-point shots, a new WNBA single game record. It upped the Carter Subaru total to 58 for the season. The result wasn’t a surprise to Seattle players.
“I think what you’re seeing is a team capable of that,” said Storm guard Sue Bird. “We have a lot of great shooters on this team and when we get it going we get it going.”
It was a contest that saw Seattle get going from the opening jump to the final buzzer but even after closing out the first quarter 38-14, helped by a 17 point outburst by Storm guard Jewell Loyd, tying the franchise record for most points in a quarter, Seattle still kept their eye on Las Vegas.
“I think, every day is different,” said Bird. “For us tonight, we understood that looking back on the game on Sunday we had control of the game, most of it. And then there came a point where they just got really aggressive…and we relaxed a little bit. So the one thing we talked about was not relaxing…Even when that first quarter happened we’re in the huddle talking about, ‘it doesn’t matter they’re probably going to go on a run be ready for it.’”
Relax was definitely off the table for the Storm and as the game moved along every Storm player saw minutes and seemed to make an impact. It was obvious that this was going to be an amazing display of a balanced team.
Coach Hughes used the blow-out to give his starters some rest, needed with their current play every other day schedule and get his bench some quality minutes.
“I think that in a game like this we get to sit there and watch more than usual but if you look back at the teams that are successful in this league…it’s usually the bench that makes a difference,” said Bird. “It’s usually the bench when they come in, if they can either hold down the fort or maybe even increase the lead, that’s when you see the Minnesota’s, the LA’s.”
Bird recalled that in their last championship season, 2010, the bench play was significant to winning the trophy.
“I can speak from our Seattle team back in 2010, it was our bench that was the huge lift,” said Bird. “So to get them going again like this where they can play extended minutes and kind of work some kinks out is even better. But we’re probably only going to go as far as our bench in a lot of ways. Yes, Jewell and Stewie are going to take a lot of the weight as well but our bench is really going to be an important part. “
One bench player who saw significant minutes had signed with the Storm just a day earlier. Mercedes Russell, a 6’6’ center out of Tennessee, was the 22nd pick by the New York Liberty in the 2018 draft but was waived.
Russell saw significant action playing a little over 17 minutes that included her first points with the Storm, two blocked shots and eight rebounds.
“[It was] really impressive for somebody who just got here, hasn’t had any practice and picked things up really fast,” said Bird. “We tried to keep it as simple as possible just calling plays that she knows she knows. She’s got size, as they say you can’t teach that. She showed up.”
At the end of the third quarter Seattle was leading 91-55 and Coach Hughes decided to rest his starters and the bench played every minute of the fourth quarter.
As the subs worked to find their balance the Aces attempted to salvage some points and outscored the Storm 19-10 in the final 10 minutes.
The game was out of reach by then and one of the only questions waiting to be answered was, who would get the three-point bucket that sets the WNBA record.
With 9:20 left in the game forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis sunk her three-point shot off an assist from guard Jordin Canada to tie the WNBA single game record for threes.
Less than two minutes later with Canada throwing another assist, this time outside the arc where it was caught by forward Sami Whitcomb who launched the three-point shot into the basket and Seattle had a new record to add to their franchise history.
But besides a balanced team effort and the record three’s Coach Hughes was also impressed by the ball movement of his team.
“Obviously it was a game where we did a lot of things well,” said Hughes. “The one that jumped out to me was the assists. We shot the ball well, it was one of those nights, and you love it when you have that. The reality of it was the ball movement was fantastic, very, very good and that number of assists, when you look at 26 (assists) on 37 goals, the ball really moved well.”
Seattle was led by forward Breanna Stewart with 21 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots and followed closely by Loyd’s 20 points, including five out of six three point attempts made.
Bird added 11 points along with nine assists while Mosqueda-Lewis came off the bench to score 13 points.
The Storm are out on the road for the next week heading to Texas on Saturday, June 2 to take on the Dallas Wings and then after a few days practicing at home they move along the coast for their first match-up against the Los Angeles Sparks on Thursday, June 7th at the Staples Center in LA.
Seattle’s next home game will be against the Atlanta Dream at 4 pm on Sunday, June 10 at KeyArena.
It’s also Paws in the Paint night where fans can bring their dogs to enjoy a night at the Key watching the Storm. No walk-up tickets for this event if you’re bringing your pet so go to the Storm website for all the instructions on purchasing a Dog Pack and other doggy-centered events at the game.