Five number one picks in the WNBA drafts were on the court together in the Phoenix Mercury (2-5) Seattle Storm (3-4) matchup on Friday at Key Arena, yet only three of them took home a victory.
Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart, were all number one picks in the WNBA drafts when they transitioned from college basketball to professional.
In Friday's matchup between the two team's tied for eighth place in the league, Seattle, who had three of these number one picks, beat Phoenix 95-81. Bird, Loyd and Stewart played key roles in the win that clinched the series for Seattle.
Loyd is no stranger to the Phoenix Mercury, as she hit the game winner against Phoenix in the final seconds during the two team's previous matchup, and they felt her presence again this go around. She punched in a career high, 32-point performance and lead all scorers.
"She was guarding Taurasi, one of the best players ever, and playing the two playing the one, letting stuff to her and not forcing it," Boucek said. "It wasn't an individual effort, she was creating for others and just taking things as they came and if she can keep doing that then she's going to reach a whole other level because she showed the ability to be a play maker and not just a scorer.
Even though she ended up scoring a lot, she was playing as more of a play maker and really just taking what the defense was giving her."
Seattle is known for their fourth quarter appearances, and it kept the tradition alive with a sequence that extended the lead. The Storm lead by 11 points going into the fourth quarter, and Loyd hit a basket right out of the gate, which marked 500 points on her career, and the momentum continued when she added to the 79-65 Seattle lead with a layup immediately following.
Stewart, who was rookie of the month in May, added to the reigning rookie of the year's performance just shy of a triple double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
On paper, Phoenix is one of the best offensive teams in the league, yet it's defensive effort was below average against the Storm. Seattle shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. The Storm's style of play was flashy, even though Phoenix was hanging on until the end of the third quarter. Seattle out rebounded Phoenix 37-26 and scored 16 points on turnovers.
"It starts with our starters," Brondello said. "We're just not getting enough effort. There's no defensive intensity. I don't know why - that's something that we've been good at in the past, but it's been an issue for us all season long. Credit to Seattle. They really moved the ball and have a lot of different options, but we just didn't execute the scout. And that's on us. We have to take a hard look at ourselves."
Penny Taylor was the only evident threat to Seattle and she gave the Mercury 19 points, five assists and four rebounds. Griner added 13 points, along with 12 points from Isabelle Harrison and Sonja Petrovic.
Jenna O'Hea, and Bird both scored 14 points for Seattle, to compliment Stewart and Loyd's noteworthy performances.
The Storm will face the New York Liberty at the KeyArena on Sunday and the Mercury will travel to face the Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center June 7th.