The Seattle Storm looked a lot better than they did on Friday, but blew the lead they had most of the game (which was high as 13) and lost 93-86 to the Connecticut Sun Sunday at Climate Pledge Arena, falling to .500 (5-5).
The Sun went on a 10-0 run from 0:29 in the third to 7:52 in the fourth to take a two-point lead. That turned into a 26-5 run that simply stunned the home crowd.
The Storm had scored just 51 points in a 17-point loss to the Dallas Wings (6-5) on Friday. It was the worst offensive performance of the Breanna Stewart era and cause for concern. On Sunday, Seattle lost by much less to a better team (9-3).
However, it was still disappointing for the Storm to not beat a team they had been a kryptonite to with 22- and 23-point wins in their previous two meetings. They were also really hoping to get a win in their first game with their whole roster available. Sue Bird and Ezi Magbegor were the latest to return; they had both been in health and safety protocols.
“I thought that the offensive execution that kind of lacked last game improved, scored 86. But then defensively not as locked in,” said head coach Noelle Quinn. “Hopefully we can put a game together, offensively and defensively. But overall, it was good to have Ezi and Sue back in the fold. Some good contributions from everyone. Connecticut is a very good team. And just understanding the aggressiveness and energy level that we have to play at. I thought that we showed it today in spurts, we just have to be consistent.”
Magbegor led the team with 19 points and Bird was second with a season-high 17 on a season-high five threes (5-of-11). Magbegor added seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals, while Bird had six assists and two steals. Jewell Loyd was good for 16 points and a team-high seven assists, while Breanna Stewart settled for 12 points, three helpers and two steals.
The Storm shot a good 48.6 percent from the field but allowed the Sun to shoot 55.2 percent, including a 5-of-5 effort from DiJonai Carrington (2-of-2 from three). Reigning MVP Jonquel Jones went off for 25 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals, while Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner each had 21 points. Seattle held Sun leading scorer Alyssa Thomas to eight points, knocking off the leading scorer spot, but the MVP candidate achieved 12 assists and 11 boards.
In addition to the poor field goal percentage defense, two issues were a 41-32 disadvantage on the glass and a free throw-attempt differential of minus-17. Quinn has never gotten a technical as a WNBA coach. She said at a previous press conference that she sometimes tries to get one, but that refs must be too used to her calm demeanor and respect her too much. She confirmed that she tried to get a T on Sunday.
“I think very similar to previous games, we have spots where we look great and spots where we don’t,” Bird said. “Having our full roster is very encouraging because we can finally start to build. And I’m sure for all of us we can start to get a little more comfortable out there. I'm sure for the coaching staff they can start to plan ahead a little bit better. ... And that's kind of how I'm approaching this. This loss does sting, given that it’s at home, given that we had control of the game early on. But I am encouraged by the fact that we can finally start to build with our full roster.”
Every member of the Storm saw playing time except for Reshanda Gray.