By Matthew Roberson
After losing to Dallas on Friday, the second straight loss to open a current five game road stretch, the Storm will make the quick trip to San Antonio for a game tonight against the Stars (5-21). That game will get underway at 5:00 p.m. PDT at the AT&T Center. This is Seattle’s second set of back-to-back games this year.
2017 has been a tough season for San Antonio, who is likely on its way to its second straight No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. The Storm is 2-0 against the silver and black this season and has won four straight over the Stars dating back to 2016. Stewart has played five games against the Stars in her young career and notched at least 19 points in all of them. The second-year forward averages 21.2 points per game in matchups with San Antonio. Loyd has five career games with 15 or more points against the Stars. In the two previous triumphs over San Antonio this season, Stewart has scored 22 points in both. Seattle has shot 44.8 percent from the field in the first two games, averaging 80 points a game and holding San Antonio to 66.5.
San Antonio enters the weekend with one of the league’s least productive offense. The Stars score a league-worst 74.5 points per game and make 28.3 field goals per contest, edging out Indiana only. In addition to having the lowest offensive rating in the association (95.2), the Stars play at one of the slowest paces (77.9) in the WNBA (Seattle plays at a pace of 77.8).
The Storm has been plagued by inconsistency all season. After starting the season 5-2, the team has won just five games since and has failed to win consecutive games since May 26 and May 28. Stewart spoke recently about how the team can improve as the season enters the stretch run.
“I think the biggest thing is just continuing to fight throughout the entire forty minutes of the game,” Stewart said. “There’s spurts where we get frustrated, we put ourselves down, our heads down, and instead we need to continue to look forward to the next game and focus on that and not letting other teams do what they want and let them take the game.”
AT A GLANCE: STARS
The Stars have had a season they’d like to forget, but they are hoping to finish strong in their last eight games of the schedule. San Antonio got off to a good start, upsetting Washington on Friday by a 76-74 margin.
Kayla McBride has been arguably the brightest Star this season. She is netting 16 points per game while shooting a fifth-best in the league percentage of 91.6 from the free throw stripe. McBride also gobbles up 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Her 32.2 success rate from outside paired with 2.3 assists per game make her a tough matchup for any backcourt in the league.
Aside from McBride, the Stars have several other intriguing young players. Center Isabelle Harrison has emerged as an effective post player, averaging 11.8 points per game in her first year wearing the San Antonio jersey. Harrison drains 52.2 percent of her shot attempts. Moriah Jefferson – who like Harrison is in her second year in the league – leads the team in assists. She checks in at 8.9 points per game on 45 percent on three pointers. Rookie Kelsey Plum, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of the University of Washington, gets 7 points and 2.9 assists in 19.9 minutes per game.
The Storm owns a 3-2 record against the Wings since the team relocated to Dallas. In all games against the franchise, including ones when it was in Tulsa and Detroit, Seattle is 28-20.
Seattle is 37-29 against San Antonio, a team it has played at least three times every year since 2000. However, the Storm is just 14-18 in games played on the Stars’ home court. This season, the Storm is 4-0 against the Texas teams. After this weekend, the team will have finished its 2017 slate with Dallas, but will host San Antonio one more time on Aug. 18.
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