(Bradenton, FL) – Seattle has accomplished one of their major goals this season. With the 107-95 victory over the Dallas Wings, the Storm have clinched a Top 2 seed, a double-bye, and an automatic trip to the Semi-Finals when the playoffs begin next week. The victory was Seattle’s 6th in a row as the team improves to a league-best 17-3 on the season. And while a Top 2 seed is now guaranteed, they still have a long way to go before they can clinch the number one overall seed.
The Storm were led by Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd who both scored 23 points in this game. Despite, another sub-par shooting night, Breanna Stewart really filled up the stat sheet again. She had a double-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds, but she also had six assists, three steals, and two blocked shots. She’s really having a large impact on both ends of the court. Jewell Loyd had another very efficient game shooting 8-13 (62%). Loyd also did an excellent job getting to the foul line where she went 6-7 from the charity stripe. Jewell also chipped in with seven rebounds and three assists.
The Storm’s entire starting five scored in double figures this game. With Natasha Howard continuing to play like the 2019 version in her last 10 games. Howard scored double-digit points for the 10th game in a row with 16 points and eight rebounds. She also had two blocks.
Sue Bird had another strong game with 10 points and nine assists. However, she did injure her head and knee in a scary play colliding with Satou Sabally with five minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.
Alysha Clark had a very productive game scoring 14 points on 5-7 FG shooting (71%). She went 3-3 from long distance in this game and she also took Arike down in the low post on multiple occasions, forcing the star guard to play defense on the other end.
What was probably the most fascinating storyline of the game was the play of Arike Ogwunbowale. She was a scoring machine in the first half leading all scorers with 15 points; including 13 points in the 2nd quarter where she did most of her damage. If I’m being honest, Alysha looked a step slow against Ogunbowale who was beating her off the dribble and getting to the basket with relative ease. Ogunbowale also drew several fouls against the Storm defenders going to the line for 7-7 free throws in the first half.
But then everything changed. Defensively, Clark and the Storm made adjustments and completely shut Arike down. So much so that she didn’t even score a single point in the 2nd half! Clark did a good job of forcing her outside and the team did a better job on help defense as well when Ogunbowale did attempt to penetrate into the paint. Arike finished the 2nd half going 0-6 from the floor and did not have a single free throw attempt.
The Dallas Wings also had five players score in double figures with rookie Satou Sabally leading the charge with 25 points and seven rebounds. Sabally looked outstanding in this game! She did most of her damage in the first and third quarters scoring 20 of her 25 points in those periods.
Sabally, like Breanna Stewart, is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The 6’4” Forward can knock down shots from beyond the arc or attack the rim and finish with either hand. She had both Stewart and Natasha Howard on her and was still able to score more often than not shooting 9-14 (64%) from the floor.
Allisha Gray is having a very nice bounce-back season and looked good in this game scoring 17 points on 6-10 FG shooting. She also went 5-5 from the foul line. Point Guards Marina Mabrey and Tyasha Harris scored 10 points apiece and combined for nine assists. I thought Harris gave Dallas some real good minutes off the bench in this game.
The Storm held the edge in rebounding (36-29), assists (30-20), steals (8-2), and blocks (4-3). Seattle also had a small advantage in overall FG shooting 51% to 49%. Seattle hit one more three-pointer (9-8) but shot at a much better percentage 45% to 33%.
Around the W
The Chicago Sky (11-10) have now lost four games in a row as the Atlanta Dream (6-14) beat them 97-89. The win keeps the Atlanta Dream’s slim playoff chances alive. The Dream had five players score in double figures. Betnijah Laney, who is a serious contender for Most Improved Player of the Year award, led the Dream with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Courtney Williams had a double-double as well with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The other players to score double digits were Chennedy Carter (16 points), former Storm member Blake Dietrick (15 points), and Elizabeth Williams (11 points, 10 rebounds).
Meanwhile, the Sky had four players score ten or more. They were led by Point Guard Courtney Vandersloot who had 22 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Both Kahleah Copper and Allie Quigley had 17 points. Gabby Williams added 12 points off the bench. Chicago has now fallen down to the 6th seed.
In the other game, we saw the Phoenix Mercury (13-8) take down the Connecticut Sun (10-11) in OT 100-95. Skylar Diggins-Smith sent the game into overtime with a 40-ft heave!
Diggins-Smith finished the game with a game-high 33 points and six assists. Diana Taurasi had 28 points and a team-high seven assists. While Brianna Turner set a franchise record with 21 rebounds! Turner also had 10 points, five assists, four blocked shots, and two steals. Kia Vaughn (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Shey Peddy (10 points, 6 rebounds) were the other players to score in double figures.
Phoenix held a 22 point lead in the first half, but the Connecticut Sun fought back outscoring the Mercury 33-10 in the 3rd quarter. Connecticut was mere seconds away from victory before Diggins-Smith hit the crazy shot that forced OT.
In a losing effort, DeWanna Bonner continued her impressive season leading the Sun with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Alyssa Thomas had 18 points and 17 rebounds. Natisha Hiedeman had 16 points and Brionna Jones added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. No Sun bench players scored in double figures.
Connecticut has clinched a playoff spot, which is an impressive feat considering they began the season as the worst team in the league starting off going 0-5. They have gone 10-6 in the final 16 games.
The Phoenix Mercury, have surprisingly played so much better since Brittney Griner left the team. The team is now 7-1 since her departure from the Wubble. I think the Mercury could be a legit threat in the opening round and I could even see them upsetting the 3rd or 4th seed if they advance to the 2nd round to the WNBA Playoffs.
If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read and want significantly more info as I discuss how the Dallas Wings have rebuilt their team. I go into more detail on the Storm, their players, quarter by quarter breakdowns, top plays of the game, and lots of interviews please consider checking out the Complete Edition linked below.