(Everett, WA) – The Seattle Storm aren’t done yet. Seattle advanced to the 2nd round of the WNBA Playoffs Wednesday night with a thrilling 84-74 victory over the Minnesota Lynx. An incredible accomplishment in what has already been an impressive season without the 2018 league MVP, Breanna Stewart, or 11-time WNBA All-Star and Hall of Fame Point Guard Sue Bird. “I thought it was a good game. You had two teams that at the end of the season are playing well back and forth but I thought we did a good job of just playing basketball. I thought Minnesota did some things with preparation time, Coach Reeves is a great coach, but I loved the way we just kind of played basketball out of it. Natasha’s not going to have many days where she doesn’t score as readily but they got a lot of congestion to her… so she gets six assists, and they were coming off of Jordin and Jordin got really active and there were times we couldn’t reverse it over… Mercedes dribbles over like a point guard and we played full of action. Our maturity of playing basketball, to me, was part of this [success] and we got great guard play. You have to really like the guard play we played today. I also thought that as the game got close we got big rebounds. Seattle Storm coach Dan Hughes with his thoughts on the game Seattle finished 6th overall in the league this season, which was good enough to host a home playoff game in the opening round of the WNBA playoffs Wednesday night. And in this tightly contested game between the last two WNBA champions, it was Seattle’s home-court advantage that played a key role in securing the victory and moving on to the next round of the playoffs. Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve talked about that after the game. “Give credit to Seattle. Three members of an All-Defensive Team and their effort was terrific tonight defensively. Jewell Loyd got them going playing off of their defense. Our defense wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be early in the game. We ended up giving up 29 points in the first quarter, but we adjusted okay. And then we couldn’t score when we needed to when it got close. Seattle wanted to win the game. Give them all the credit in the world. They earned a home game and this is exactly why home games are so coveted.” Minnesota Head Coach Cheryl Reeve on Seattle’s tough defense and the game overall Seattle also did something they hadn’t done all season long; win without Natasha Howard scoring in double figures. Prior to the game, I wrote down three keys to the game. The Storm needed to knock down a good amount of three-pointers, they needed to limit Sylvia Fowles to under 20 points, and they needed someone else to step up beside Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard. When I wrote that, I didn’t envision that Natasha Howard would score just two points in the entire game. Her lowest point total of her MVP caliber season. Fortunately for Seattle, they did get that extra help in this game. On top of Jewell Loyd’s 22 points, the team got huge contributions from their two rookies from last season: Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell. Both were instrumental in the Storm’s playoff victory. Mercedes Russell was one rebound shy of a double-double (13 points and nine rebounds) and played nearly dead even with the Lynx’s superstar center Sylvia Fowles (14 points and 11 rebounds). Most importantly, Russell’s size and defensive presence kept Fowles in check and prevented her from scoring 25-30 points as she has done so many times against Seattle in the past. Coach Hughes praised his 2nd-year center after the game. “We’ve watched (Mercedes) improve the whole season. I was telling the coaches that Sylvia [Fowles] got it going. But the thing Mercedes did really well was not let her get too deep. There was a lot of people all around Sylvia. The journey has taught our young ones a lot…. I’m talking about Canada and Russell… They have learned a lot this year. You can see it a part of the play today. It’s pretty daunting that Fowles is that good, but we’ve done it five times now, so you’ve got an idea.” Storm coach Hughes on Mercedes ability to limit superstar center Sylvia Fowles Of course, Russell wasn’t the only 2nd-year player to come up big in the playoffs Wednesday night. Jordin Canada set a new career-high with 26 points on 10-21 shooting. She was relentless, attacking the basket all game long and blowing by the slower Minnesota defenders. Her hesitation crossover past Seimone Augustus was such a beautiful basketball play. And then there was this one. And we have to show off this ridiculous steal, where she raced down the court, prevented a Minnesota fast-break, stole the ball and tossed it back to her teammates before falling out of bounds. To say Jordin Canada had one of the best games of her career would be an understatement. With performances like Wednesday night, in her first-ever career playoff start, it goes to show why Seattle selected her 5th overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft and why they picked her as the potential heir to the legend Sue Bird. “I thought she did things off the ball that were exceptional. You always think about Jordin taking it and pushing it… her cutting, her relocation, all those subtle things without the ball led to situations where now she scores readily like that. That was key. She’s a player in the game, like Russell, who has really grown in a lot of ways. For her to recognize ‘I need to be pivotal’ without the ball because of the teams we’re playing against….and she was.“ Storm coach Dan Hughes on Jordin Canada’s performance While Minnesota’s frontcourt put up huge numbers with Damiris Dantas (20 points), Napheesa Collier (19 points) and Sylvia Fowles (14 points) and a combined 27 rebounds; it was the Storm’s backcourt play of Jewell Loyd and Jordin Canada that were the absolute difference in this game. Seattle’s backcourt outscored their Minnesota counterparts 48-1. You read that right, 48-1. Odyssey Sims had one point in 19 minutes. Danielle Robinson had zero. Loyd’s 22 points and Canada’s game-high 26 were the difference between winning and losing this one. Coach Reeve seemed disappointed in her All-Star guard’s lack of performance in this one. “If I could answer why players do what they do and why they show up when they do then I’d make a lot of money because coaches would want to know the answer to those things. It’s really unfortunate timing because you need one of your top players from the season to show up it didn’t happen for her tonight.” Lynx Coach Reeve on why Sims wasn’t able to get going offensively How the game progressed The Storm came out hot knocking down three 3-pointers and led 11-4 within the first couple minutes of the game. Seattle then beat the Lynx on many pick and roll and backdoor cuts to the basket. The Lynx defense looked a step slow as the Storm got out to a ten-point lead, 23-13. Unfortunately, Natasha Howard picked up her second foul of the game with about four minutes left in the quarter. The Lynx immediately went on a 6-0 run to cut the Storm’s lead to just four. Seattle battled back to put the Storm up eight after one quarter of play, 29-21. Both teams played evenly and each team had big runs in the 2nd quarter. Seattle led by as many as 14 points at one point before Minnesota finished the half on an 11-4 run. The Storm led 47-41 at the half. Loyd was the leading scorer for Seattle at the midway point with 15 points. Jewell made several impactful plays beyond her 22 points in this game. She had three steals. On one possession she grabbed an offensive rebound between three Lynx defenders and was able to immediately draw a foul as she went back up to score. Late in the game, she also managed to snag the ball away from a Lynx player while she was flat on the crowd, forcing Minnesota into a jump ball and preventing them from getting a fast-break play. I talked to Loyd after the game about these extra-effort plays. “Obviously we want to win at home and win in the playoffs. I came into the game with an aggressive mindset and I was very calm and relaxed coming into it. I wanted to leave it all on the floor. That was something that we talked about going into the game. No matter what happens, we want to leave everything on the floor and come into the locker room knowing that you gave it everything.” Jewell Loyd on doing whatever it takes to earn the playoff victory Damiris Dantas played a critical role for the Lynx in the first half scoring a team-high 15 points on 6-8 shooting. Without her, the Lynx likely would have trailed by more than ten. The biggest surprise of the first half was that Natasha Howard didn’t score a basket until the 3:45 mark of the 2nd quarter and finished the first half with just two points. The Storm made adjustments in the second half limiting Dantas to just five points. But Napheesa Collier went off in the third quarter scoring eleven. Seattle extended their lead to 12 points (60-48) on a Jordin Canada layup with 4:35 left in the third period. But Collier’s jump shot would cut Seattle’s lead down to just three points (62-59) that capped off another 11-2 run by the Lynx. The three-point deficit would be the closest Minnesota would get the rest of the way. Seattle was able to execute a beautiful drive and dish play between Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell, resulting in a soft jump hook by Russell with just a few seconds remaining in the third to put Seattle up five (64-59) as they entered the fourth quarter. While Seattle’s bench didn’t play above themselves in this game (17 bench points), they came out extremely strong to start the fourth quarter. Shavonte Zellous knocked down back-to-back jump shots (her only points of the game) and Sami Whitcomb knocked down a three to quickly put Seattle back up ten 71-61; which quickly prompted Minnesota to call a timeout. To the Lynx credit, they never gave up in this game. They trailed by double digits multiple times throughout the game and a lesser team would have easily quit on the road. They would have allowed Seattle to balloon their lead to more than twenty. But that never happened in this game. The Lynx had too much fight in them. “That’s the epitome of our team. I think that’s what we’ve been doing all season. Starting with losing players, retirements, sabbaticals, injuries – they never made any excuses and they just competed. When we get down in a game, we just keep battling so I think it’s a testament to the players and the leadership from our captains. I’ve seen it all season long. We’ve hung in there.” Coach Reeve on her team’s ability to push through adversity and keep the game close Back-to-back low post buckets by Sylvia Fowles cut Seattle’s lead down to four again at 71-67 with just under six minutes left in the game. The home town team would finish the game on a 13-7 run. With five minutes remaining in the game, Seattle had one of their best defensive possessions of the game as they forced the Lynx into a 24-second shot clock violation. Minnesota would commit eight turnovers in the final five minutes of the game, including four possessions in a row. “I think it had a lot to do with our turnovers. We were turning the ball over left and right and I think that hurt us down the stretch because they were able to utilize our turnovers.” Sylvia Fowles on how the turnovers prevented them from being able to take the lead against Seattle While Seattle wasn’t perfect, this allowed them to put the game out of reach and push the lead back up to 13. As the final buzzer sounded Seattle was moving on and Minnesota was headed home. Seattle also snapped Minnesota’s impressive streak of winning a WNBA Championship every odd year this decade. The Lynx took home the title in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017. Up Next The Storm will face a very tough Los Angeles Sparks squad who finished third overall in the WNBA this season 22-12. Seattle plays their single elimination 2nd round game on Sunday at 12:00pm.
(Seattle, WA) – The Seattle Storm clinched a playoff spot on Sunday when the New York Liberty lost to the Washington Mystics 101-72. This is no doubt a huge accomplishment for the defending champions after their entire season was thrown completely off course before the season even began; once MVP Breanna Stewart tore her Achilles tendon while playing overseas in Russia. And then it was announced that Sue Bird would miss all or most of the 2019 season with knee surgery. Most media outlets predicted the Storm would not make the playoffs. Not only have the Storm made the playoffs, but they still have a great chance to claim a first-round home playoff game. “The season started by reshuffling the deck (after the injuries to Stewie and Bird). There’s a lot of people out there that didn’t think we were a playoff team. We thought we were. It’s gratifying (to earn the playoff spot). We’re still learning things. Things don’t come easy for this team and we try to be honest about that. That there’s going to be some ups and downs to this season. But I’m very proud that we are a playoff team and now we’re battling for the best position we can. The key I want is for us to be playing good basketball by the end of these next two weeks. When we go into the playoffs, we can win on the road. We would love to be at home as I told the team afterwards. If we could earn the ability to play at home that would be a major success for us.” Storm Coach Dan Hughes on clinching the playoff spot Unfortunately, the Storm’s playoff seeding took a huge hit on Sunday as they weren’t able to overcome a horrible shooting night as they fell to the Indiana Fever 63-54. The 54 points were not only a season-low for total points scored but you have to go back to Jewell Loyd‘s rookie season, five years ago, to find another game where they scored fewer than that. Sunday’s game was their worst scoring game since June 9th, 2015 where they lost 68-45 to the (then) Tulsa Shock (Dallas Wings). “You look at the final score and it was just a consistent defensive effort throughout against a team that’s high-powered offensively. (Seattle) does a good job moving the basketball and can create some problems when they go small. I thought we stayed disciplined throughout and didn’t make the same mistakes twice. The best part of that is we married it to some concepts offensively by playing to Teaira (McCowan) and playing off of her. (Tiffany) Mitchell gets a wide-open layup late because they didn’t want to leave Teaira. And (Teaira) is a willing passer. It’s a tough environment to play in coming off of a tough loss in L.A. It was nice to see us bounce back and be the aggressor.” Indiana Fever Head Coach Pokey Chatman Seattle jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game after back-to-back three-pointers by Natasha Howard and it was all downhill from there. The Fever would quickly call a timeout and settled down. Indiana then went on their own 6-0 run. Indiana would regain the lead on a Kelsey Mitchell fast-break to put the Fever up 16-14. Indiana finished the first quarter on a 16-4 run to take an 18-14 lead after one. Seattle would never regain the lead after that. The Fever jumped all over the Storm to begin the second quarter on a 9-4 run to go up nine 27-18. The Fever would extend their lead to 11 points before Seattle made a small run at the end of the quarter to cut Indiana’s lead to seven points at half time, 33-26. Seattle shot just 24% from the floor and only had two assists in the first half. The Storm had absolutely no rhythm offensively and their guards could not buy a basket. Seattle’s four guards (Jewell Loyd, Jordin Canada, Sami Whitcomb, and Shavonte Zellous) shot a combined 2-19 from the floor (10.5%). In general, the entire team struggled mightily with their shot. It was one of the worst shooting performances I’ve seen since I started covering the team five years ago as they shot 18-63 good for just 28.6%. This game was a stark contrast from last Sunday’s performance against the Minnesota Lynx where six different players scored in double figures, including all five starters. This Sunday, just one Storm member scored in double figures, Natasha Howard had 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds. She also had three steals and three blocks, including an absolutely vicious block on Kennedy Burke. Howard continues to make a strong case for defensive player of the year. And while the Storm’s defense was quite strong holding the Fever to just 63 points, 6’7″ rookie Teaira McCowan absolutely dominated with 22 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. She also added two blocks and was absolutely a staunch presence in the middle of the paint, limiting Seattle’s scoring opportunities. “I was just working hard like normal. I try to go out and get every (rebound) to get my team more shots and get us out in transition. That’s what I tried to do. That’s what I like to do best – get my guards out to get quick buckets then turn around and we’re back on defense.” Teaira McCowan on her career-high 19 rebounds McCowan looked like everything she was projected to be as a potential number one overall pick; she ended up going third overall to Indiana in the 2019 WNBA Draft. But you can see the potential. She was unstoppable in Seattle on the offensive end, cleaning up the glass, and keeping the Storm out of the paint. I had nightmare flashbacks to McCowan’s Mississippi State college days when she absolutely dominated Kelsey Plum and the Washington Huskies in Plum’s final collegiate game in the Sweet 16 of the March Madness Tournament. “We’re asking her to guard fours. And they started the game with Mercedes (Russell), who has the height with her, but she probably played 11 or 12 minutes guarding (Crystal) Langhorne or (Natasha) Howard, which is really tough because she has to play the angles. And it’s a different set of plays so, for me, that shows her growth. Previously when that happened she was in foul trouble (against smaller teams) so that’s her growth. When she’s not on the floor and in foul trouble, we struggle. You can see her confidence and you can see the players trusting her more and more and wanting her to be that piece in the middle.” Indiana Fever Coach Pokey Chatman The Fever had two other players score in double-figures, Candice Dupree added 12 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 13 points off the bench and was the only Fever bench player to score. K. Mitchell also had the best plus/minus of any player with a plus 16. She also knocked down several key shots in the 2nd half whenever the Storm attempted to make a run. Offensive Woes Per the Storm’s PR, The game marks the second time this season that Seattle has held an opponent to 63 points and lost. This season, Seattle is 3-2 when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points. The rest of the WNBA is 25-3 in such games. This was also the 2nd time this season the team shot under 30% from the floor and it really highlights the Storms struggles to score this season. The lack of offensive firepower is where Seattle clearly misses Breanna Stewart the most. While Natasha Howard, has done an incredible job of filling in for the MVP as Seattle’s top scoring option this year; in general, it just hasn’t been enough. Jewell Loyd has not been the same since returning from her severe ankle injury and continues to struggle with consistency. Not terribly surprising, both second-year players Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell have also clearly struggled with scoring each and every game. You’ll see them break out for 12-15 points one game and the next game maybe it’s 4-6. Playoff Seeding Update Despite the disappointing loss, the Storm remain in the 6th seed and have clinched a playoff spot. However, today’s loss was extremely costly when looking at results around the league. The team right above Seattle in the 5th seed, the Chicago Sky (18-11) and the team right below Seattle nipping at their heels, the Minnesota Lynx (7th seed), both won on Sunday. The Lynx (15-15) are now just 1/2 game behind Seattle (15-14). If the Storm and the Lynx remain in the 6th and 7th overall seeds at season’s end, then they will face one another in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle will want to keep the 6th seed in order to have home-court advantage for that game. Up Next The Storm have a quick turnaround as they face the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night in Seattle. Seattle will be seeking revenge as they recently lost a heart-breaker as they choked away a seven-point lead with about 80 seconds left in the game on 8/16 in Connecticut. The Sun are the only WNBA team the Storm haven’t beaten this season and this will be the last opportunity to get a win against them this year.
(Seattle, WA) – After a heartbreaking loss to the Connecticut Sun on Friday that saw the Storm choke away a seven-point lead with under 90 seconds to play, Seattle bounced back strong in an impressive 82-74 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday. The Storm never trailed in this game, getting out to an 11-0 start before Minnesota’s rookie Napheesa Collier would score the first points for the Lynx. “We’ve been playing a lot of basketball lately and… I’ve been around enough to know that sometimes teams respond to [hard losses like the previous game against Connecticut] like the way we did tonight and sometimes they kind of feel sorry for themselves. I’m just really glad they responded.” Coach Dan Hughes on the team responding well after the tough loss Seattle was firing on all cylinders as six players scored in double-figures led by Jordin Canada‘s 14 points, six assists, and three steals. The most promising thing I saw from Canada was her ability to take a couple of dribbles in from beyond the three-point line and knock down the pull-up jumper 15-17 ft from the basket. This is not something we’ve seen Canada do consistently yet in her WNBA career, but the more comfortable she becomes knocking down the mid-range jumper the more difficult it’ll be to defend her. Canada is already excellent at attacking the hoop despite her diminutive size. If she can add the pull-up jumper to her repertoire she is going to become an elite point guard in this league. But it wasn’t just Canada, this one really was a team effort. All five starters scored in double figures and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also added 11 points off the bench (all in the first half). It was great to see Jewell Loyd look a lot more like her true self; something we haven’t seen a lot of since she returned from injury. Loyd finished the game with 13 points, five rebound, and three assists. She was aggressive getting to the basket and shot a much more respectable 45% from the floor (5-11). “I feel good. I’m getting back into my rhythm. I think that’s been evident in the last couple of games. Even on the road trip, I think we see that I’m moving better and things like that. In reality, I think that I am in the best shape I have ever been in right now because I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and focusing on my diet. I feel good.” Jewell Loyd on recovering from her severe ankle injury Natasha Howard was limited with foul trouble all game long but definitely had a big impact while she was on the court. Most notably was after she picked up her 4th foul with about three and half minutes to play in the third quarter with the Storm up 14 points. The Lynx would go on to outscore Seattle by 10 over the final three minutes to cut Seattle’s lead to just four, 67-63, entering the 4th quarter. Howard finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, two blocks, and two steals and was able to play most of the 4th quarter which allowed the Storm to really separate themselves from the Lynx in the final minutes of the game. Alysha Clark and Mercedes Russell each contributed 10 points apiece to round out the starting five. She’s on Fire! If you grew up in the 1990’s you’re probably familiar with the widely popular arcade game NBA Jam. The game was notorious for crazy slam dunks and outrageous shooting. The game may be most known for catching “fire”. When the same player scored three baskets in a row without giving up any points they would catch fire. Once your player was on fire you could do anything on the basketball court. Drain 30-foot three-pointers, dunk from the 3-point line, block every single shot, etc. What does NBA Jam have to do with the Seattle Storm/Minnesota Lynx game you might be asking? Well in the third quarter of Sunday’s game Odyssey Sims was on fire. Sims scored 18 straight points against the Storm. She knocked down three’s, attacked the basket, and knocked down the mid-range pull-up jump shots. In total, Sims shot 8-8 from the floor in the third quarter. It was like watching something out of a video game. No other Minnesota Lynx player scored in the third quarter until Danielle Robinson made a jump shot with just two minutes remaining in the period. Sims was very close to tying the all-time record for most points in a quarter of a WNBA game. The record is held by Diana Taurasi who scored 22 points in a game against the Los Angeles Sparks in 2006. Napheesa Collier (16 points) and Sylvia Fowls (11 points) were the only other players to score in double-figures for Minnesota. Seattle also limited them to just four points total between the two of them in the 2nd half. “I thought Seattle played well. Seattle plays as a unit and they execute their stuff really, really well. They play really hard and obviously their fans are highly engaged. They’re hard to play against. Odyssey Sims tried to put the team on her back, but we just didn’t get enough help from other people.” Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve Records and Milestones Natasha Howard had two more steals in this game which gives her 63 steals on the season and set an all-time Seattle Storm franchise record for most steals in a single season. “[Natasha Howard] is probably the Defensive Player of the Year. I was thinking who would I vote for, and I’d vote for her. As a coach there are certain things that you watch… you see a crowd rebounding and she makes some tough crowd rebounds… Natasha goes into a crowd and it’s like she’s bigger than she is. Along with all of the great offensive things, I don’t know if anybody has done as much for their team defensively as Natasha.” Coach Dan Hughes on the defensive presence of Natasha Howard Jordin Canada is also likely to surpass the previous franchise record this season as she has 55 steals with six more games to play. Canada and Howard both lead the league in steals at around 2.3 steals per game. Crystal Langhorne also set a record, earning her 1,000th career rebound as a member of the Seattle Storm. She joins Lauren Jackson, Camille Little, and Sue Bird as the only other players in franchise history to reach that mark. Langhorne also knocked down two more three-pointers in this game, bringing her season total to 15, which now nearly doubles her career total from her first 11 seasons in the WNBA (8 made 3’s heading into 2019). Playoff Seeding and Tie-Breakers While the Seattle Storm have not yet clinched a playoff berth this season, they are very close to doing so. The win over Minnesota was particularly important because it gives the Storm a significant advantage in their head-to-head matchup against the Lynx. Seattle won the season-series 3-1 against the Lynx. The victory keeps the Storm in the 6th seed and knocks the Lynx down to the 8th seed. Both teams are unlikely to fall out of the playoff race as they have a significant lead over the 9th seed Indiana Fever (9-17) with less than eight games left to play. For the Storm, they are likely to finish between the 6th and 8th seed, with an outside shot at reclaiming the 5th seed if the Chicago Sky were to falter down the stretch. The late-game collapse against the Connecticut Sun on Friday did major damage to the Storm’s chances of earning the 4th or 5th seed that are currently held by the Los Angeles Sparks and the Chicago Sky. The Sky already own the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Storm which currently gives them a two-game lead over Seattle. The Storm will face the Sparks in one of their final games of the season in Los Angeles and must win that game if they have any hope of leapfrogging the Sparks in the standings by season’s end. Seattle will also face off against the Phoenix Mercury in the final week of the season with the winner likely not only landing the higher seed but also homecourt advantage in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs. As a 5th or 6th seed, the Storm will host an elimination game in Seattle. If they fall down to the 7th or 8th seed they will play all their playoff games on the road unless they advance through the first two rounds to the WNBA semi-finals. Up Next The Seattle Storm get a nice break before hosting the Indiana Fever at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday, August 25th at 4:00pm.
(Everett, WA) – Now that All-Star weekend is over the Storm are back to work as they returned to Everett, WA, Friday night to face off against the team they beat in the Finals last season, the Washington Mystics. The team from D.C. was able to get a modicum of revenge as they jumped all over the Storm from the get-go on their way to an incredibly impressive twenty-point victory over the defending WNBA Champions, 99-79. Elena Delle Donne absolutely torched the Storm scoring a game-high 29 points on 9-15 shooting. She also shot 75% from beyond the arc (3-4) and knocked down all eight of her free-throw attempts. She also added another game-high 12 rebounds. EDD was one of five Mystics players to score in double figures with the others being Atkins (17), Meesseman (13), Toliver (12) and Powers (12). “We need to be quicker, but [Elena Delle Donne] also made the plays that only the great ones are doing. She’s a really good player. But we had to be quicker to those points and we weren’t quicker to those points. We also had to force her off. Our early work and our denials didn’t really keep her from touching the ball a lot. I thought she was in a great rhythm and difficult to guard. You never want a great player in rhythm and confident.” Coach Dan Hughes on the Storm’s inability to stop Elena Delle Donne from scoring and getting good loks By contrast, the Storm had just one player score in double figures. Natasha Howard was the lone bright spot scoring a team-high 26 points and finishing the game with six rebounds, three steals, and three blocked shots. Jewell Loyd was re-inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since her major ankle injury that took her out of seven games this season. Unfortunately, Loyd continued to struggle shooting just 2-8 from the floor and finishing the game with just eight points. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Sami Whitcomb combined for 17 points off the bench (9 and 8) and Jordin Canada chipped in nine with most of those coming in garbage minutes in the 4th quarter. But as a whole, the team underperformed and fell flat in their matchup against the Mystics. Seattle started the game shooting 1-12 from the floor and managed just three points total through the first seven and a half minutes of the game as they trailed Washington 18-3 with 2:30 left in the first quarter. “I thought Washington came out and separated from us. You look at the last three quarters and I thought [the Storm] was competitive. I thought that in the first [quarter] we really weren’t at game speed. We hadn’t played in a while and it showed. But you have to give Washington credit. They really executed offensively and shot the ball extremely well.” Coach Dan Hughes on the Storm’s slow start Jewell Loyd finally got the Storm going with an aggressive slash to the basket where she was fouled after making a layup. Natasha Cloud disagreed with the call and ended up receiving a technical foul which led to a four-point play by Loyd. The bench came in and gave Seattle some energy which allowed them to cut the Mystic’s lead down to 11 by the end of the first, 23-12. From there, it never really got any better. The Storm were never able to make a significant run to get back into the game. Seattle struggled defensively, which was surprising to see as they have been one of the best defensive teams all season long (ranked 2nd just behind Las Vegas). Basketball is a game of runs, but it was the Mystics that kept making more of them. With the Storm battling to cut the deficit to single digits the Mystics responded with a quick 9-0 run on three consecutive three-pointers. Aeriel Atkins knocked down back-to-back three-pointers and Elena Delle Donne followed that up with a three of her own and the Mystics’ lead was back up to 17 at 44-27. Seattle would trail 48-34 at the half. Once again, the Storm made a run outscoring the Mystics 7-0 to cut Washington’s lead to 11 with roughly four minutes left in the third quarter. But before the Storm could cut the lead to single digits and really get the crowd back into it, Delle Donne went on her own personal 5-0 run. The Mystics finished the quarter on a 17-10 run at that point, essentially shutting the door on Seattle as they led 78-60. “We’ve been having a little bit of a lull shooting wise. As a shooting team, you’re going to have nights when you get really hot like this. It was great to see (Ariel Atkins) get going. We just have so many great shooters and so many offensive weapons so I feel like any night someone can get hot and we feed off of each other.” Elena Delle Donne on the team’s hot shooting The Storm trailed by 10-20 points throughout the entire game and they were never able to change the momentum. A huge factor was that the Mystics shot a blistering 59% from three-point range (13-22) while holding Seattle to an abysmal sub-14% (3-22). The Storm have often utilized the long-ball to their great advantage in both their 2018 championship season and this year. But they just didn’t have it tonight. The shots just weren’t falling. And for every three the Storm would miss, the Mystics would turn around and bury another three in their face. The 99 points is the most Seattle has given up all season long. The Storm have been quite good defensively this year and it’s really been a huge key to their success, but their defense was no match for the red-hot shooting of the Mystics tonight. “It was very frustrating. It was hard for it to work at this moment… I give credit to Washington. They broke us down. They did a really good job of kicking it ahead and doing what they do best: shooting threes… We have to bounce back. We have L.A. coming up.” Natasha Howard on the frustration of the Mystics’ offensive barrage Friday night Mystics coach Mike Thibault was pleased with his team’s performance after the game. “Our pace was great. We set a good tone in the first quarter at both ends of the floor, but we got a little bit sloppy defensively in the second half. We fouled a little bit too much in the second half. They made their one run at us and got it down to 11, but we knocked down another three and our big-time players came up big. We got great performances by a couple of people off the bench tonight. Tianna (Hawkins) was playing well until she got tossed. Obviously, Emma (Meesseman) was really good. When your star (Elena Delle Donne) gets 29 — that helps.” Elena Delle Donne echoed those statements. “A lot of grit and a little bit too much emotion at times. It’s always great to be able to pull out a win like this, especially playing here. It’s always tough and the fans are super loud. You know they’re a great team when you have a lead like that and you still never feel comfortable. Great win and hopefully we can continue to build and get better.” When asked if wearing the mask gave Delle Donne an extra edge (superpowers perhaps), she responded by saying. “I don’t know, but I like the mask though. It feels good and I feel strong in it so the mask might have to stay.” The mask is working, EDD has quickly risen to the top of the MVP rankings in national polls. She’s putting up monster numbers and the Mystics (14-6) absolutely look primed for a return to the WNBA Finals. And this year, I think they’re ready to win the whole thing.
(Minneapolis, MN) – The Seattle Storm went into Minnesota and got an impressive road victory Wednesday 90-79. And yet a 4th quarter collapse nearly ruined what was an otherwise exciting win led by a career night from Natasha Howard. Howard absolutely dominated the Lynx, scoring a career-high 33 points on 12-21 FG shooting. She also had seven rebounds and three blocked shots in the game. Coach Cheryl Reeve didn’t have the answers but gave Howard her credit for the performance. “She’s a great player, that the GM traded. I knew that would be a difficult matchup for Phee (Napheesa Collier). This was not one of Phee’s better nights. Natasha Howard is a fast player, dynamic player. 28% three-ball, step-back threes…she was feeling herself. Not a great matchup. Natasha is a tough matchup for most people but, obviously for Phee that was challenging. Coach Reeve (also Minnesota’s GM) takes a shot at herself while praising Natasha Howard The Storm had four players score in double figures in another balanced team effort. The other players were Sami Whitcomb (15 points), Alysha Clark (12) and Jordin Canada (12). Whitcomb also had a career-high dishing out eight assists. Clark also became the 7th player in franchise history to collect 300 assists in her career. Whitcomb talked about getting open to hit her five threes in this game. It’s sort of the way they defend a bit. They try not to, they tend to keep the bigs off a little and they like to keep them in the paint a bit more so if you can really use the screen, and we have some really great screeners, you have that split second, that one second to get the shot off and that sort of suits my game.” Sami Whitcomb on how Minnesota was guarding her in the game and leaving her open And while Mercedes Russell didn’t score in double figures in this game, she still made a huge impact. Russell finished the game with seven points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots. She also had the highest plus/minus of any player on either team with a +21 rating. This was very noticeable as she did a very solid job defending Minnesota’s All-Star Center Sylvia Fowles. Russell altered multiple shots and forced Fowles to miss, even in single coverage. When Russell wasn’t in the game, Fowles was able to score at a much higher clip. Another major reason the Storm were victorious is that they held All-Star guard Odyssey Sims to just five points on 2-12 shooting. And while a lot of the stats were comparable, the Storm held an eight to nothing advantage in blocked shots. Minnesota also had four players score in double figures led by Lexie Brown‘s 20 points off the bench (more on her later). Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and seven rebounds. Danielle Robinson had an impressive double-double with 14 points and 10 assists. Stephanie Talbot chipped in with 10 points. The Storm never trailed in this game. Seattle started off 4-4 including 3 three-pointers to jump all over the Lynx. Seattle was 7-8 to start the game and had a 17-6 lead just four minutes into the game. Minnesota started 2-2 but then went ice cold from the floor shooting just 1-12 from the floor in their next 12 shots. The Storm finished 4-8 from 3-point range after one and led 26-16. Shavonte Zellous drained a three with about a second left in the quarter. That wouldn’t be the last time a Seattle player would do this. Early in the 2nd quarter, we saw an interesting lineup with Shavonte Zellous, Sami Whitcomb, and Blake Dietrick all on the court at the same time. This was partly because Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis suffered a left knee injury where she landed awkwardly after a jump shot. Mosqueda-Lewis played just two minutes prior to the injury and would not return in the game. She is questionable for Friday’s game against Las Vegas. Seattle led 50-40 at the half. The Storm shot 54% while the Lynx shot just 39% in the first half. The Storm would use a 10-2 run to go up 18 at 60-42 to start the 3rd quarter. Seattle would extend their lead to as many as 21 points in the quarter. Natasha Howard had 12 of her 33 points in the 3rd quarter including a beautiful step back 3 as the third quarter came to an end. Seattle outscored Minnesota 21-14 in the 3rd period. The Storm would take a 17 point lead into the 4th quarter, 71-54. The victory appeared well in hand for Seattle, but then the team completely fell apart for the first six minutes of the final period. The Storm committed seven of their 21 turnovers in the fourth. Minnesota found life after Danielle Robinson forced Blake Dietrick into back-to-back turnovers just by pressuring the ball in the backcourt. The first turnover resulted in a fast-break layup from Robinson to Lexie Brown. The 2nd time, Blake attempted to stop Robinson for scoring and was called for a Flagrant 1 foul. While it was a bit of a questionable Flagrant call. There is a legit concern about Dietrick’s ability on this team. She appears to be lacking in confidence offensively and is extremely limited in her ability to score. This is also not the first time I’ve seen her struggle to bring the ball up the floor when being heavily pressured. And she looked visibly shaken and upset on the sidelines after committing the turnovers. The Lynx cut the Storm’s 17-point 4th quarter lead down to just one point at 78-77 with 4:05 left to play in the game. Minnesota used several of Seattle’s turnovers against them. Lexie Brown was also huge knocking down multiple 3’s in the quarter. The Lynx would never take the lead, cutting Seattle’s lead to just one again at 80-79 with 3:30 left to play. Minnesota would not score again for the rest of the game as Seattle would finish the game on a 10-0 run. Minnesota had 34 points off of Seattle’s 21 turnovers, the most points given up off turnovers since 06/28/2009 in a defeat to the Los Angeles Sparks. And yet, the Storm managed to hang on to win this game. Coach Hughes was proud of his team for hanging on and executing down the final stretch. “You know, you knew Minnesota was gonna make runs at us. I thought we played really well. We made shots. And our pace was very good throughout the game. And then we face a little adversity with losing a couple of players and you knew Minnesota is playing well, and you knew they were going to make a run. And I was just really proud, we didn’t give up the lead, they got it to one and D- Rob had that shot, but then we had a little presence at the end. And that, we’re learning about ourselves as our team has moved around personnel-wise so much. But I was pleased because you knew as well Minnesota’s playing it was gonna be, at some point, a run we would have to deal with and could we come back from it. Coach Hughes during the post-game Point Guard Problems Without Sue Bird the Storm are extremely thin at Point Guard. And it was extremely troublesome when Jordin Canada went down with a knee injury earlier this year. While Shavonte Zellous and Sami Whitcomb have done their best to run the backup point guard position, that isn’t their natural position and their play won’t always be positive. While it’s true that Sami Whitcomb had a career-high eight assists in the game. She also had a team-high five turnovers. Unfortunately, Canada went down with another injury in the final five minutes of this game. She was driving to the hoop and stumbled to the floor. She was either tripped or lost her balance while attempting to drive through traffic. Sadly, as she fell face-first to the ground, it appeared that her head may have made contact with Lexie Brown’s knee. Canada laid on the ground as the Lynx recovered the ball and she did not get back for the entire next possession which allowed Lexie Brown to drain a wide-open three-pointer. Seattle called a timeout and Canada did not return to the game. It is unclear on whether or not Canada will be available to play on Friday night back in Seattle against the Las Vegas Aces. With the myriad of injuries this season and the possibility that Sue Bird may not play at all this season, I completely understand having Blake Dietrick on the team. But I do believe that Alisha Valavanis should look to add another point guard with greater upside in the future and that could be a priority for the 2020 WNBA Draft. Lexie Brown and My Confusion with the Connecticut Sun I honestly don’t understand it. The Connecticut Sun have been a relatively successful organization in recent years, finishing as the 4th overall seed the past two seasons. They currently own the second-best record in the WNBA this season. But more than anything else I associate the team as one that has given up on some talented players. In 2015, they drafted Elizabeth Williams 4th overall. Then they barely played the 6’3″ center out of Duke during her rookie year. The Sun would then trade Williams before the 2016 season to the Atlanta Dream. Williams would go on to win the WNBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award in 2016 averaging nearly 12 points, over eight rebounds and nearly 2.5 blocks per game (2nd best in the WNBA). Williams would be named to the WNBA All-Star team in 2017 while putting up similar numbers the following season. And while her numbers have dipped a little over the past two seasons, Williams has still proven to be a high-quality player for the Dream. And I can’t help but feel like we might be seeing the same thing happen again, this time with Lexie Brown. Brown was a highly touted point guard out of Duke entering the 2018 WNBA Draft. It was likely that the Storm were going to draft either Jordin Canada or Lexie Brown with the 5th overall pick and while I’m very happy they selected Canada as that was the player I wanted them to take after watching her dominate the PAC12 her junior and senior seasons. I was still very high on Lexie Brown as well. But Connecticut never gave her any playing time to develop and shipped her off to Minnesota before this season for a 2nd round pick that never even made the Sun’s final roster. And while Brown continues to develop in Minnesota, she has shown flashes of brilliance already this season. She has scored over 20 points a couple of times already and is averaging around 8 points off the bench for the Lynx. She is also shooting over 41% from 3-point range. I’ll be interested to see if Brown improves even more in another year or two and I’ll wonder what prospect the Sun will give up on next. Up Next The Storm host the #1 overall seed Las Vegas Aces and UW’s own Kelsey Plum on Friday 7/19 – 7:00pm at UW’s Hec Ed/Alaska Airlines Arena. 2018’s rookie of the year A’ja Wilson and the 2018 MVP runner-up Liz Cambage will look to continue their winning ways against Seattle.
(Seattle, WA) – The Seattle Storm finally got back to their winning ways Friday night against the Dallas Wings in a 95-81 blowout victory. The final score was not indicative of how the game played out as the Storm dominated wire to wire leading by as many as 28 points in the game. Seattle used a balanced attack both from the starters and off the bench to secure the win. The Storm had five players score in double figures led by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis‘ 18 points off the bench. Jordin Canada (14), Natasha Howard (14), Mercedes Russell (13) and Sami Whitcomb (12) were the other four players to hit double digits. The bench totaled 36 points and outscored the Wing’s bench 36-21. Seattle also had 28 assists and 14 steals in the victory. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and came after six days rest for the team who hadn’t played since last Friday, July 5th. The rest was absolutely necessary as the Storm’s schedule was front-loaded throughout the first part of the season having them play more games than any other team in the league. The extra practice time and rest were absolutely noticeable from the opening minutes of the game. “Having a chance to have a week of practice is rare in the WNBA but I thought it was really good for us in a lot of ways. I think you saw the fruits of it on the court today… You look at the assists, and you have to look no further than Jordin Canada. She had 12 assists and zero turnovers. I don’t know how many [stat sheets] I’ve looked at over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that number.” Coach Dan Hughes reflects on his team’s performance after getting six days rest The Storm got off to a very hot start, knocking down four three-pointers to begin the first quarter including three by Sami Whitcomb. Seattle was on fire shooting 12-16 (75%) from field goal range and 4-5 (80%) from downtown. Sami Whitcomb was all over the place in the first quarter, scoring nine points and getting two assists, two steals, and two rebounds early on. Seattle’s defense was equally as impressive in the opening quarter. Jordin Canada and Sami Whitcomb were tenacious in their defense, forcing five of the Storm’s seven steals they had in the first. With a barrage of three-pointers and non-stop hustle defense the Storm were able to get out to a 33-13 lead after one. While the Storm’s hot shooting cooled off a little bit, their defense remained strong limiting the Wings to just 29 points total in the first half. The Storm carried a 52-29 lead into half-time. Most notably the Storm held rookie superstar Arike Ogunbowale scoreless throughout the first half. The defense focused on limiting her touches and making shots incredibly difficult when she did get hands on the ball. Ogunbowale would break out in the second half to score a game-high 23 points. Dallas had three other players score in double figures: Glory Johnson (18 points including 4-5 from 3-pt range), Allisha Gray (14) and Kaela Davis gave them 11 points off the bench. The Wings did have their best shooting night of their season, shooting 31-58 (53%) and 12-19 (62%) from beyond the arc in the loss to Seattle, but Coach Brian Agler was not particularly satisfied with that. “If you want to look at it that way you can. Those are positive things and in our situation you have to build on the positives. I look at the bigger picture of trying to establish championship culture, championship traits and championship characteristics. Obviously in the first 10 minutes of the game we didn’t have that and we didn’t have long stretches of that throughout the game. That’s been my emphasis and from this game it looks like we have a long way to go. In other games it looks like we’re getting closer so our season is a little bit of a roller coaster.” Wings Coach Brian Agler on if he was happy about the team’s shooting in this game The Storm really took control of this game in the third quarter going up by as many as 28 points multiple times throughout the period. The shots kept falling for Seattle who shot 61% from beyond the arc and knocked down 14 three-pointers in the game. Not surprisingly, the 4th quarter was Seattle’s weakest where they played mostly bench players. To the Wing’s credit, they fought hard after going down nearly 30 points and cut Seattle’s lead to 10 with a minute left in the game. The Storm had eight turnovers in the quarter more than the six turnovers they had in the first three quarters combined. Dallas outscored Seattle 28-17 in the final quarter. All-Star Nominations The Seattle Storm were one of the big winners once the All-Star starters were announced Thursday afternoon. The WNBA announced that both Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd were named to the 2019 All-Star team. On top of that, they were both rated high enough and tallied enough votes to both be named starters of their respective All-Star squads. It’s a huge accomplishment for both players. This is Natasha’s first All-Star nomination of her career and it is Jewell Loyd’s second. Loyd was also named to the All-Star team in 2018. Howard has been named WNBA player of the week on multiple occasions this season and is currently one of the favorites to possibly win the league’s MVP award. Jewell Loyd was averaging roughly 17 points per game before an ankle injury derailed her season. Loyd is expected to return to the Storm this season but has missed five games and her return date is unknown at this time. As of now, the Storm have the 2nd most All-Stars on one team with two representatives. The Las Vegas Aces, which is also the host city for this year’s All-Star game, has the most with three players being voted in, Liz Cambage, A’Ja Wilson, and Kayla McBride. When asked if he hoped any other Storm player could be nominated to make the All-Star squad, Coach Dan Hughes mentioned Alysha Clark. “I would love to see Alysha Clark get more national recognition for the basketball player that she is. The fact that she has not been on the All-Defensive team through the years is a travesty. She impacts the game from a defensive standpoint at an extremely high level.” Coach Hughes on his hopes that Alysha Clark will get her recognition one day Future Stars In a season where the Storm lost MVP Breanna Stewart to a torn Achilles and Sue Bird to a knee surgery before the season had even started, the wins and losses are less important for Seattle this year. But what is incredibly important for the future of this team is to develop the players that are still available and to help determine which players to build around as we enter another era of Storm basketball. The most noticeable development has been of Natasha Howard. Who has turned her Most Improved Player award season into a borderline Most Valuable Player type season. Howard is averaging 17.6 PPG and 8.5 rebounds per game; which is Top 4 in the league in both categories. Howard’s play has been recognized as she was nominated to her first All-Star team as well. But beyond Howard, several other players have stepped up this season. Most notably in the sophomoric duo of Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell. Both players have made large contributions to the team this season and both are legit candidates to win the Most Improved Player of the Year award in 2019. Jordin Canada had a historic night Friday evening. She scored 14 points, but more impressively had 12 assists and zero turnovers. She also collected five steals. It was a career-high in assists and Canada’s first career double-double. The 12 assists to zero turnovers is the third greatest assist-to-turnover ratio in WNBA league history per the Elias Sports Bureau. Seattle’s own Sue Bird had a game with 13 assists and zero turnovers on 09/01/2017. And Jennifer Rizzotti of the Cleveland Rockers had a game where she had 14 assists without a turnover on 06/21/2002. Credit to the Storm’s PR for pointing this out. “I think that it was just a team effort with my teammates knocking down shots and me creating and putting them in positions to knock down those shots. I think this week helped us a lot to get back to the basics and our rhythm on offense and get back to being aggressive on the defensive end.” Jordin Canada on her historic performance on Friday Mercedes Russell also had yet another strong game. She finished the game scoring 13 points and pulling down eight rebounds. Russell has scored in double figures in seven of the 16 games she’s played this season. She did not score in double figures at all during her rookie season. Her ability to score has really allowed Seattle to compete despite lacking so much offensive firepower without Breanna Stewart. The Storm have won 5 of the 7 games in which Russell has scored ten or more points. And this game also proved that it’s not just the youngest players making a difference. Sami Whitcomb and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis both had huge games Friday night against Dallas and if they can ever start contributing like they did tonight in a more consistent role than the Storm could be nearly impossible to defeat. Up Next The Seattle Storm finish their six-game homestand with another game against the New York Liberty on Sunday afternoon, 4:00pm at UW Hec-Ed/Alaska Airline Arena. The Storm will be out for revenge as they dropped a heart breaker last week 84-83 to the Liberty despite leading by 10 points in the 4th quarter.
(Seattle, WA) – The Seattle Storm are a lot like the great Greek Mythological monster the Hydra. When one head is cut-off two more appear in its place. People’s heads aren’t being cut-off but the Seattle Storm have had to deal with an absurd amount of injuries this season. And yet, the team keeps fighting, keeps battling back, and the players that are available continue to develop into even greater players than they already were. It’s difficult to comprehend what Seattle has done this season. No Breanna Stewart, no Sue Bird, games without Alysha Clark and Jordin Canada, and for now, no Jewell Loyd either. And yet, the team now sits at 8-5 after a thrilling 79-76 victory over the Chicago Sky. The Storm are also a perfect 5-0 at home this season and they currently own the third best record in the entire league. Players are really stepping up. Natasha Howard gets the most recognition as she’s transformed her game to All-Star levels and is a legitimate MVP candidate. Before going down with an injury this past Tuesday, Jewell Loyd had also stepped up her game and scoring consistency. And the two sophomore players Jordin Canada and Mercedes Russell have significantly improved their games from their rookie seasons. So Breanna Stewart goes down with a season-ending injury and Natasha Howard goes from averaging 13 points and six rebounds a game in 2018 to 19 points and nine rebounds in 2019. Mercedes Russell is averaging nearly five more points and five more rebounds per game. Sue Bird is out and Jordin Canada has increased her scoring by an additional three points per game, improved her assists to 5.0 per game, and nearly tripled her steals, averaging a league-leading 2.9 steals per contest. I’m telling you, they’ve become a HYDRA! Alysha Clark talked about the team’s resiliency after the game. “I think it speaks to the character of each and every person on this team. We have a team of fighters. They had to fight to get in the league, they had to fight to be where they’re at or to get a spot, to get playing time. Whatever it is, we’ve fought to be at this level. We understand injuries happen and we hope that is the last one. But we’re not going to just roll over and quit. That’s not who we are as people. When you have a collective group of people who fight like that and have that fight within them, anything is possible.” Alysha Clark with the best quote of the season Jordin Canada also echoed those statements after the game. “It’s not about who’s not here, it’s about who is here. We have that next man mentality. Everyone brings something to the table and we are piecing it together. We are going to continue to put the pieces together, continue to fight, and continue to show that resiliency.” Jordin Canada on Next Man Up Mentality Canada finished the game with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals to lead the Storm in scoring. Canada also pestered Kent, Washington’s own Courtney Vandersloot all game long. Jordin really locked down Vandersloot and held her to just two points on 1-6 shooting. In total, Seattle used a balanced effort with five players scoring in double figures. Natasha Howard had her worst shooting night of the season (3-14) but still managed to score 14 points and pull down nine rebounds. Her ability to get to the foul line (8-9) was key in the victory. Mercedes Russell (12), Alysha Clark (10) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (11) were the other players in double figures. Chicago countered with three players in double figures, led by Diamond DeShields’ 19 points and six rebounds, Jantel Lavender’s double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds and 11 points from Allie Quigley. The Storm got off to a blistering hot start scoring a season-high 33 points in the first quarter. The team shot 57% overall and 57% from 3-point range. Alysha Clark got the Storm going scoring eight of the team’s first ten points. Mercedes Russell also came up big with eight points in the opening quarter. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis also came off the bench and knocked down two three-pointers. Seattle led 33-21 after the first. The Sky cut into Seattle’s lead early in the 2nd quarter with an aggressive defense that forced Seattle’s bench players into a couple of turnovers. The Sky started the quarter on a 9-4 run, getting most of their points in transition. The starters were able to build the lead back up to twelve but could never get the lead beyond that. Chicago finished the final two minutes of the quarter on a 6-2 run to cut Seattle’s twelve-point lead to eight, 51-43 at half-time. You knew the Storm’s hot shooting in the first quarter wouldn’t last, but they really went cold. Seattle started the game shooting 57% but finished the game shooting just 37% and less than 30% from beyond the arc. Chicago used another 6-2 run to open up the third quarter to cut Seattle’s lead down to just four. The Storm only committed two turnovers in the first half but had five in the third quarter that allowed the Sky to erase the Storm’s lead. The Sky outscored Seattle 22-15. The Sky would take a one-point advantage 61-60 on a Diamond DeShields jumper with 1:40 left in the third. Seattle would retake the lead but Gabby Williams would counter with a drive to the basket, scoring with just seconds remaining to cut Seattle’s eight-point half-time lead down to just one as the teams entered the fourth quarter. It became a defensive battle in the final quarter and both teams had their lowest scoring quarter of the game. Both teams battled back and forth with three ties and two lead changes in the quarter. No team would lead by more than four points throughout the entire final period. Jordin Canada came up huge scoring seven of Seattle’s 13 fourth-quarter points. My favorite play of the game was a beautiful steal by Canada who absolutely picked the pocket of Diamond DeShields while DeShields tried to get the Sky into transition. And it was Alysha Clark who hit possibly the biggest shot of the season so far with the shot clock running down, Clark drove to the hoop but was cut-off, she spun back around to the right and heaved up a hook shot from about 12 feet from the basket with about ten seconds left in the game to put Seattle back up by three. “It might surprise some people, but those are the shots I’ve been shooting. I’ve been shooting them my whole career. Going up against big girls, you’ve got to find a way.” Alysha Clark on her game-winning shot After the game Coach Dan Hughes was thrilled with his team’s effort against a very talented Chicago Sky team. “This was fun for me because I thought the team I’m coaching turned a page and said ‘what do we have to do now?’ If you have practice time with them, they value it. And they just have big hearts, God bless them. They build a trust in me that they’re going to answer the call. All we need to do is have some time with them together so they can understand who they are at that moment. But no matter how hard we’ve been hit, we’ve responded. As a coach you want to bottle that and keep it forever.” Coach Hughes on the team’s ability to fight through adversity Chicago Sky Coach James Wade was frustrated after the game and was visibly irritated in the post-game press conference. “I don’t have any thoughts. They won. I don’t really look at stats. All I look at is wins and losses.” Coach Wade’s thoughts on the game. “We didn’t score. That’s all it was. I thought Natasha (Howard) got her hand on … stopped her follow through from going through. I don’t know if it’s a foul or not. I’m young in the game so evidently, I don’t know what’s a foul.” On Chicago’s final possession Diamond DeShields fell down after her shot as she had done so many times throughout this game. But with the game on the line, the refs swallowed their whistle and Seattle held on for the victory. Chicago’s Jantel Lavender offered some more substantial thoughts after the game ended. “I think our major downfall tonight was the first quarter. (Seattle) got off to a great start and we let their players go where they wanted to go … they found their open shots. They pretty much did what they’re good at. We found the energy later, but it just wasn’t enough. They got 33 points in the first quarter versus 28 points in the whole second half … we just have to start the game better.” Lavender on Chicago’s poor start that cost them the game “There were some adjustments, but it was more of a mindset thing. We just had to play more aggressive. I don’t think our aggressiveness was there. We just picked it up. It just shows what we can do when we have that intensity, but it’s a tough loss on the road because we do have what it takes. We beat this team twice at home and we know what to expect from them. Having Jewell Loyd out – we beat them with her (in the lineup) so we relaxed a little bit. And you can’t do that with good teams.” Lavender on the adjustments made in the 2nd half “It came down to execution. We were there. Alysha Clark hit a really, really tough, one-handed, off-the-glass shot. It was kind of like their night so it was tough. Just execution on those last plays – we didn’t get what we wanted down the stretch. You saw we had to call two timeouts to try to get what we wanted to run to even try to find Allie (Quigley). We have to be able to find her in those situations and we didn’t tonight. I just think we have to learn from it, go back and hopefully in the next couple of days we get a win.” Lavender on execution in the final minutes of the game Additional Notes I asked Jordin Canada how her knee felt and if she felt 100% after the game. “My knee feels good. I haven’t had any pain. I’m just going to continue my rehab and get treatment on it. Tonight, I felt great even though I was falling a bunch of times. That’s my game, but I feel fine and had no problems.” Canada on her injury status Up Next The Seattle Storm get another rematch against their heated rival the Phoenix Mercury, Sunday in Seattle at Alaska Airline Arena at 4:00pm. The Storm defeated the Mercury in the opening game of the season with a 77-68 victory. However, Seattle will be without Jewell Loyd this time who had 17 points in that game. It has been reported that Phoenix will still be without WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi as she continues to heal and recover from her back surgery in the off-season. Taurasi is expected to return any game now and has practiced with the team, but won’t suit up on Sunday. The Mercury are coming off two wins in a row, including a major beat-down of the Indiana Fever on Friday 91-69.