The Seattle Storm (6-5) picked up their second win over a team with a winning record Tuesday night at Climate Pledge Arena, defeating the new and improved Atlanta Dream 72-60 behind 26 points from Jewell Loyd and, finally, a first technical foul from head coach Noelle Quinn.
The win was much-needed for a team that has been struggling to live up to its high expectations — their 5-5 record coming in and the fact that their only previous win over a winning team was a 74-71 triumph over the Chicago Sky on May 18 epitomize those struggles. However, Tuesday was just their second game this season with a full roster.
Seattle led most of the way, but the Dream had three key stretches where they battled back and made the Storm sweat. The last one was a 13-0 run that cut their deficit to 64-60 with 3:52 to go. But, as the final score indicates, Seattle would finish the contest on an 8-0 run. Breanna Stewart hit a three at 3:38 to give the Storm some breathing room and a Gabby Williams layup and an Ezi Magbegor three after that sealed the deal. It was Magbegor’s second trey of the game, third of the season and ninth of her career, which obviously isn’t a lot, but she's made her last three in a row from beyond the arc.
Stewart finished with 19 points and Magbegor (five blocks) had 12, but the biggest bright spot was of course Loyd’s 26.
“I think I was getting good rhythm shots from my teammates getting me open and just taking what the defense gave me and just trying to make the game as simple as possible,” Loyd said. “Defenses, we don't really know what they’re gonna do and knowing that regardless if they double me, I can pass it to these guys (motions to Stewart and Magbegor) and we’re in good hands. I was just trying to ... see what was open early. Just kind of got in a rhythm early and I guess it kept going.”
Loyd had a solid night from the field, going 8-of-17, and Magbegor was a super efficient 5-of-6. All of the Storm’s free throws were attempted by either Stewart (6-of-6) or Loyd (8-of-9).
The Storm’s overall field goal percentage of 41 percent wasn't great, but what stood out was the 2-of-19 effort from distance that they held Atlanta to. The Dream’s star rookie, No. 1 pick Rhyne Howard, was 0-of-6 from long range and 5-of-17 from the field overall for 11 points, 4.8 less than her season average.
“Guarding a scorer is not just one person’s responsibility, it’s everyone,” Loyd said. “And I think Gabby (Williams) started off getting into her and just staying with her and making things a little difficult for her. It was honestly a team effort, everything tonight, I mean all the matchups. We constantly were talking on the flare screens and guarded guards tough. Our game plan was pretty good.
“I mean, (Rhyne’s) gonna be a great player. Obviously she’s done the work early and you’ve seen her talent. The league’s in good hands. I told her that tonight too. She’s gonna be amazing and she knows that. As long as she puts in the work and keeps going, she’s gonna be one of the greats for sure. But for right now, she’s learning.”
The Storm take a lot of pride in their newly renovated arena and in winning there. Three home losses during an eight-game home stand isn’t ideal, but at least the stretch ended on a positive note. Now, the Storm face five-straight games on the road, including three against teams that beat them during the home stand (two vs. the Dallas Wings and one vs. the Connecticut Sun).
“We knew after the loss to Dallas and then obviously after the loss to Connecticut that we were gonna see them again really soon,” Stewart said. “We’re full of vets and I don’t think going on the road for five games really bothers us. I think that we really loved being home for eight games, but this is how the season goes. And we’re ready to go on the road and battle it out in other teams’ home arenas.”
.@breannastewart records her 250th career block. She is one of 15 players with 3,000+ pts, 1,350+ reb, 450+ ast, 200+ stl, and 250+ blocks, reaching the plateau in 157 games—13 faster than the next closest player. At 27 years, 282 days, she is also the youngest.#TakeCover— Seattle Storm PR (@SeattleStormPR) June 8, 2022