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Recaps: Storm maintain feel-good vibes of first place heading into Olympic break

Breanna Stewart had 13 points and seven rebounds and Jewell Loyd made a key three to lead the Seattle Storm past the Phoenix Mercury. Plus, the Minnesota Lynx, Indiana Fever, Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun all captured wins.

Phoenix Mercury v Seattle Storm
From left to right, Olympians Katie Lou Samuelson, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner.
Photo by Josh Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Jewell Loyd made a three with 1:48 to play that increased the Seattle Storm’s lead to six and foiled a Phoenix Mercury comeback on Sunday at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash.

The Storm (16-5) overcame 28 points from Kia Nurse with a balanced scoring effort and remained in first place heading into the Olympic break with an 82-75 victory.

The Mercury, who had upset Seattle two days earlier, fell to 9-10, which has them in seventh place.

Epiphanny Prince (15 points), Katie Lou Samuelson (14), Breanna Stewart (13) and Sue Bird (13) all scored in double figures for the winners.

Mercedes Russell (eight points), Loyd (eight) and Jordin Canada (seven) weren’t far behind. Russell hauled in 10 boards while Loyd dished out six assists. Loyd, who averages 31.2 minutes per game, played just 21:40.

Sunday marked just the sixth game out of 19 that Mercury stars Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith both scored under 20 points. Diggins-Smith had 17 and Griner (nine rebounds) had 16. Phoenix is 2-4 when they both score under 20.

Both teams were solid from beyond the arc with Seattle going 10-of-27 and Phoenix going 9-of-23.

Other action

Minnesota Lynx (12-7) over Los Angeles Sparks (6-13), 86-61

Napheesa Collier led the Lynx to their seventh-straight win and a firm hold on fourth place with a career-high-tying 27 points to go along with seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Layshia Clarendon (14 points, eight assists) scored in double figures for the sixth time in a row and notched eight-plus assists for the third time in a row.

Sylvia Fowles contributed 10 points and seven rebounds to the winning cause and Damiris Dantas (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) and Jessica Shepard (five points, seven rebounds, five assists) were also key contributors.

Minnesota led by 16 after one and by 15 entering the fourth before winning the final frame by 10. It was dominant in the field goal percentage battle (55.9 to 36.7) and went 9-of-19 from deep compared to LA’s 4-of-15 effort. The Lynx also outrebounded the Sparks 37-24 and won the points in the paint battle 44-30.

Erica Wheeler had 14 points and six helpers in defeat.

This was Minnesota’s largest-ever margin of victory in Los Angeles and first win in the City of Angels since Sept. 6, 2016.

Indiana Fever (4-16) over Atlanta Dream (6-13), 79-68

The Fever started the fourth on a 10-0 run to open up a 17-point lead. The Dream’s ensuing 8-0 run was too little too late and Indiana held on for its third-straight win after a 1-16 start.

Teaira McCowan led the Fever in points (21), rebounds (14) and blocks (three) while Danielle Robinson (12 points) dished out nine assists. Tiffany Mitchell added 14 points and eight boards and Kelsey Mitchell (11 points) and Jessica Breland (10 points) also reached double figures.

Indiana held All-Star Courtney Williams to six points and Odyssey Sims’ 20 points were not enough for Atlanta. The Dream were 1-of-13 from distance and were outrebounded 49-30. The Fever won despite a minus-13 turnover margin.

Las Vegas Aces (15-6) over Dallas Wings (9-12), 95-79

The Aces gave themselves a chance at first place, but the Storm took care of business.

A’ja Wilson bounced back from a 13-point performance (her second-lowest scoring output of the season) with a near-triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. The eight assists tied a career high set during her rookie year and she added three blocks.

Dearica Hamby (12 rebounds) also tossed in 22 points for Vegas while Jackie Young (five assists) and Kelsey Plum scored 17 and 16, respectively. The Aces were able to win without second-leading scorer, second-leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker Liz Cambage, who had Australian National Team commitments.

Vegas was down by five after one, but won the second and third by 11 apiece and led by at least 13 throughout the fourth.

Dallas placed six players in double figures. No. 1 overall pick Charli Collier upped her career high in scoring by one with 13 points. She added eight boards in her third-career game playing over 20 minutes. Allisha Gray notched 14 points and six rebounds in defeat.

The Wings struggled from the field (33.7 percent) and attempted 11 less free throws than the Aces. Vegas won the points in the paint battle 50-30.

Connecticut Sun (14-6) over New York Liberty (10-11), 71-54

Jonquel Jones leads the WNBA in rebounding at 11.1 boards per game, so her notching a season high on the glass is saying something. That season high happened to be 17 on Sunday and the Sun maintained a 1.5-game lead over the Lynx for third place.

J. Jones also had 17 points and five assists in the victory while backcourt mates Jasmine Thomas and Briann January scored 12 and 10, respectively.

Connecticut was more impressive on defense though, holding New York’s top three available scorers, Betnijah Laney (19 points per game on the season), Sami Whitcomb (12.1) and Sabrina Ionescu (9.9) to three, five and zero points, respectively.

Kylee Shook (6.9 points per game) was the unlikely leading scorer for the Liberty with a career-high 16 points.

Connecticut extended its lead to 18 entering the fourth by winning the third by nine and led by at least 16 throughout the final frame.