It might get lost because she made the game-winning shot with 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime, but Napheesa Collier blocked Ezi Magbegor, who is three inches taller than her at 6-foot-4, three times in the first 6:03 Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
Collier was simply the boss of the game, as she asserted with those early blocks and with her game-winner late. She finished with six rejections to go along with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Her game-winner came on an inside fadeaway after which the Seattle Storm’s Ivana Dojkić missed a three-quarters-court shot at the buzzer. Collier’s Minnesota Lynx walked away with the 99-97 decision — their second win over Seattle in three days.
The Lynx (6-9) led by as much as 13 in the game while Seattle’s largest lead was four.
Storm superstar and WNBA leading scorer Jewell Loyd went off for a career-high 41 points and was nearly the hero. But she dribbled the ball off her foot with 7.6 seconds remaining and the game tied at 97, allowing the Lynx to set up their game-winning play. The Strom (4-11) had trouble inbounding the ball and barely got it to Loyd in a tight spot before she made the mistake.
2023 No. 2 draft pick Diamond Miller made a driving layup for Minnesota to tie the game at 97 with 11.2 seconds remaining. She led the Lynx with nine points in the first quarter and finished with a career-high 19. Her previous career high of 18 came in her previous outing (Tuesday’s 104-93 win over the Storm at Target Center in Minneapolis). That was her first game back from an ankle injury. She added two steals and two blocks on Thursday night.
Loyd made a right-corner three that made it 93-90 Seattle and an amazing turnaround fade that made it 95-92. But Kayla McBride (19 points, 4-of-8 from distance, six boards, three helpers, five swipes) buried a triple that tied it at 95. Storm rookie Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu then made a layup off an offensive rebound to make it 97-95.
Loyd stole the ball from Collier as time was winding down in regulation and missed a half-court attempt to win at the buzzer. She made a contested floater to tie the game at 87 with 21.9 seconds remaining. A series of missed layups hurt the Storm down the stretch of the fourth.
Loyd made a three at the buzzer of the shot clock to make it 76-75 Seattle 1:11 into the fourth. She also made a mid-range fade that made it 78-75, a three that made it 81-77 and two free throws that made it 83-82 Storm.
Magbegor finished with 16 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and four assists. Teammate Sami Whitcomb dropped 22 points on the strength of 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc. She added three helpers. Dojkić was good for seven points and career highs of six boards and 10 assists.
Dorka Juhász (4-of-5 from the field) contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, three helpers and two blocks to the winning cause.
The Storm went on an 8-0 run early in the third to take a 54-50 lead. Magbegor hit a three from the right corner to give them the lead and Loyd followed with a trey from the left corner. A Collier right-wing three would later tie the game at 56. A Loyd 3-point play followed, but then Minny went on an 8-0 run featuring a deep two and a left-corner three form McBride to lead 64-59.
It was then Seattle’s turn to push ahead a bit as Whitcomb made a three and then assisted a Fankam Mendjiadeu layup for a 5-0 run that made it 68-64 in the Storm’s favor. The Lynx would tie it at 68 on a Miller transition layup. Miller would tie it again, this time at 73, with a three that was the final basket of the third.
The Storm went on a 10-0 run from the end of the first to early in the second to cut it to 25-22. Whitcomb closed the run with a left-wing three after a Fankam Mendjiadeu block. Back-to-back floaters from Loyd later cut it to two (32-30) with 6:45 remaining before halftime.
From there, Minny went on an 11-2 run to lead by 11. The run was highlighted by a Bridget Carleton three that rolled in from the right corner after a McBride steal. The back-and-forth nature continued as Seattle went on an 8-0 run to cut it to three again. Whitcomb notched the final six points of that run with a right-wing three and a driving layup-turned-3-point-play.
Loyd cut it to 48-46 with a scoop layup that dramatically rolled around and in at the first-half buzzer.
The Lynx went on an 8-0 run to lead 12-5. Collier scored four points on a foot-on-the-arc two and a mid-range make and Miller added the other four on a mid-range make from the left baseline and a transition layup.
Miller would score on another layup in transition — this time off Collier’s second block of Magbegor — to make it 18-10.
The Lynx went up 11 on a Carleton three with 1:53 remaining in the first and up 13 on a Nikolina Milić inside bucket right after that.
Both teams attempted 26 triples, with the Storm making 13 and the Lynx making nine. Seattle also won rebounds 48-36 but turned the ball over 18 times (eight more times than the Lynx).
The Lynx were without Aerial Powers (ankle), Jessica Shepard (illness) and Tiffany Mitchell (wrist). The Storm were without Jordan Horston (shoulder).