By Seth Dahle
Rookie guard Jordin Canada scored 15 points, 10 of which came in the second half, and hit six critical free throws in the final 1:25 to lead the Seattle Storm to a 73-69 win over Phoenix in the preseason opener on Tuesday afternoon at KeyArena.
In addition to her offensive presence, Canada was stifling on the defensive end, snagging five steals in 23 minutes of play.
Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart posted 15 points apiece, while Sue Bird added 10 points, four steals and three dimes. In her Storm debut, Natasha Howard pulled down a team-best six rebounds to go along with six points.
With Seattle down 61-57 midway through the fourth stanza, Canada took the ball from Phoenix’s Imani Wright and scored a layup to make it a two-point game. She later pulled down a critical defensive rebound, which ultimately led to a Loyd three-pointer to put the Storm up one (62-61) at the 5:21 mark.
After the two teams traded leads, another rookie stepped up big for the Storm, as Teana Muldrow buried a three-pointer to make it 67-65 Seattle. Phoenix re-tied the game with free throws, but that’s when Canada took over down the stretch, sinking freebies at the line to seal it.
In the first half, it was Seattle’s big three of Bird, Stewart and Loyd who shouldered the load offensively, combining for 25 of the Storm’s 42 first-half points.
Despite starting the game 1-for-7 from the field, Seattle made eight of its last 13 field goals of the first quarter to go up 21-15. A 10-4 run tag-teamed by Bird and Stewart put Seattle up 10 (38-28), and the Storm ultimately entered the locker room with a 42-36 advantage.
Seattle’s defense played big in the victory. The Storm forced 11 turnovers in both halves, combining for 22 Mercury miscues and translating into 18 points for the home team.
- With the win, Seattle improved to 5-1 all-time against Phoenix in preseason games that take place in the Emerald City.
- The Storm earned its 20th preseason win in franchise history, moving to 20-26 overall and 13-9 at KeyArena.
- Seattle shot 93.3 percent (14-for-15) from the stripe, led by a 7-for-7 effort from Canada.
- Canada, Loyd and Stewart each tallied 15 points for Seattle.
- The Storm forced 22 Mercury turnovers and turned them into 18 points.
- First-year head coach Dan Hughes improved to 1-0 in preseason play in the Emerald City.
Seattle travels to Phoenix on Saturday for its final preseason contest. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. PT. The two teams will meet again in Seattle’s home opener on May 20 for a 6 p.m. PT tipoff at KeyArena in regular season play.