By Seth Dahle
Seattle will play its final home game of June on Friday, and it should be pivotal in the team’s current position in the WNBA standings.
Diana Taurasi, who recently shattered the WNBA’s all-time scoring record, and the Phoenix Mercury come to town in a matchup that includes two teams that are sitting at 6-5 overall. Tipoff at KeyArena is set for 7 p.m. PT.
The Storm is coming off a 75-57 win over Kelsey Plum and the San Antonio Stars on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd at KeyArena. Breanna Stewart did everything for Seattle, finishing with 22 points, a season-high 15 rebounds and career-high five blocks. Crystal Langhorne added 10 points, while Sue Bird dished out nine assists.
After the Stars pulled to within six (37-31) early in the third frame, Stewart buried back-to-back three’s and scored eight straight points to anchor a 14-5 Storm run to pull away, and Seattle improved to 16-3 vs. San Antonio at home since 2008.
It’s been an up-and-down year thus far for the Storm. After starting 4-1, the team lost four of five before coming up victorious on Sunday. Head coach Jenny Boucek said Stewart was a big reason Seattle came away with a ‘W.’
“She now has a good feel for the game, a good rhythm and is letting things come to her,” said Boucek. “When you do that with her talent, good things are going to happen for us as a team.”
Despite being held to four points and one field goal against the Stars, Jewell Loyd has led Seattle thus far with 18.4 points per game and is shooting 90.5 percent from the line. Stewart has emerged of late, totaling 21.2 points and 9.6 boards per affair in the last five outings.
Setbacks haven’t hindered Seattle from boasting one of the best offenses in the league. The team shoots 47 percent from the floor and dishes out 18.7 assists per game.
AT A GLANCE: MERCURY
A lopsided (90-59) loss at Los Angeles on Sunday didn’t stop Taurasi from making history. In the final moments of the first half, she came off a screen and scored a layup to pass Tina Thompson’s scoring mark of 7,488. She finished with 19 in the game to reach 7,494 points.
Phoenix couldn’t overcome a 21-point deficit after the first quarter against the Sparks, as the Mercury committed 19 turnovers and shot under 33 percent. The team started the season 4-2 before slipping in three of its last five games.
On the year, Brittney Griner is shooting 55.4 percent and averaging 22.9 points and eight rebounds per game, while Taurasi totals 18.3 points. The Mercury averages 81.5 points per game but allows its opponents to shoot 42.5 percent from the field.
Seattle leads the all-time series, 38-27, and owns a 21-10 mark at KeyArena. The Storm lost nine in a row to the Mercury between 2014-15 before snapping the skid last season with an 81-80 win on May 20 at Talking Stick Resort Arena, as Loyd scored 30 points and banked in the game-winner with 2.9 seconds left.
In the 2017 preseason slate, Seattle split with Phoenix, claiming an 86-64 win at home before dropping a 72-55 decision on the road. Sami Whitcomb and Carolyn Swords led the Storm in game one with 15 points apiece.
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