SEATTLE, WA — The booming yellow thunder sticks that filled KeyArena created a near impossible atmosphere for the best team in the league, the Minnesota Lynx, to shoot in.
It was the Seattle Storm defense that won the night.
Even with key star Sue Bird sidelined with a sore knee, Seattle managed to contain Maya Moore’s dangerous offense in the first half with a 36-31 lead.
26 defensive rebounds for Seattle took away so many buckets that Minnesota is used to securing on the scoreboard against teams that don’t put up a fight. They’ve only lost twice this year on the road.
“We knew that Minnesota likes to run their stuff and we wanted to do our best to get them out of their rhythm,” explained Breanna Stewart.
The Storm defended them so tight; they held the Lynx to an all time scoring low of 61.
“The first time they came here, they demolished us,” said Jewell Loyd. “Now coming here and playing hard the way we did, everyone came off the bench and did what they needed to do.”
Breanna Stewart rocked the court on boards, 10 of her 11 on the defensive end.
Minnesota is used to blasting past mediocre defenses and spelling out H-O-R-S-E a few times a quarter. But tonight, they were faced with a transformed team motivated by a rejuvenated shot at playoffs.
So where was last year’s championship contender? Where was the team holding the best record in the league, who had clinched a playoff spot weeks ago? They were suffocated by a Seattle squad with a new mindset and a new coach. Basically, a team new to the 2017 season.
“With Klop (Coach Gary Kloppenberg), with a defensive minded coach, and trapping people,” said Stewart, “we’re switching on them no matter who it is, and pressuring full court when our subs came in, especially first half, that was huge.”
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Seattle Storm - August Edition.
Yes, Maya Moore looked disappointingly inaccurate at her attempts from the arc, but that all stemmed from the arms of 7’1” wingspan Stewart and her defense swallowing any shot at threes.
Within the final minute of the matchup, the Storm defense performed a defensive highlight reel of what they accomplished throughout the entire night.
Jewell Loyd said it best:
“We made them respect us.”
Moore went for a long shot that was blocked, and Sylvia Fowles was quick to tip in a two-pointer before Seattle's hands blocked the ball for the win, and the clock ran out.
“We were aggressive all game,” said Loyd. “Trying to tire them out, wear them out, make them think, get out of their comfort zone.”
Alysha Clark and Crystal Langhorne both came to Stewart’s side on defense while Loyd dropped buckets on offense. All in all, Seattle so much found their stride, Noelle Quinn who started as point guard was honored the player of the game - because the win was a team effort.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time and playing it like it’s our last,” added Loyd. “The last two minutes everyone was on their feet, that’s why we play. Moments like that.”
“We’re right on the border,” said Stewart. “Either we’re going to go up, or we’re going to go down.”
The Storm hosts San Antonio on Aug. 18 at 7 pm PST with a newly healthy Kelsey Plum sure to be welcomed in Seattle by her University of Washington alum. Minnesota flies home to face Indiana on Aug. 18 at 5 pm PST.