Thursday, September 15 – 7 p.m. PT
Talking Stick Resort Arena | Phoenix, AZ
WNBA League Pass
With two games to go in the regular season, the Storm (15-17) sits in seventh in the standings and Phoenix (14-18) is right behind in eighth. Seattle owns the tiebreaker against the Mercury having won the first two matchups, so Phoenix could only finish higher in the standings if it wins out and the Storm loses out. The Storm clinched its spot in the playoffs on Sunday, while Phoenix needs just one win or one Mystics loss to do so.
In the Storm’s first win over the Mercury this year, Jewell Loyd nailed the game-winning jump shot with 2.9 seconds remaining to give her team an 81-80 victory in Phoenix. The second meeting was also tightly contested until the fourth quarter, when Seattle pulled away for a 95-81 win at KeyArena. Before this season, the Storm had lost nine straight games to Phoenix.
When the Storm and Mercury met for the first time this year on May 20, Jewell Loyd scored a then-career high 30 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter on 6-of-7 field goals. Then on June 3 at KeyArena, Loyd once again posted a new career high against Phoenix, notching 32 points. Loyd became the third player in franchise history to score 30 on multiple occasions (Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson), and Breanna Stewart has since joined them.
Since the Olympic break, the Storm ranks third in the league in points (84.6 per game), first in assists (20.4) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55). Seattle is shooting 50.8 percent from the field during its winning streak, the league’s best percentage. The Storm is giving up 77.3 points per game (second fewest) since the break and owns a league-best defensive rebounding percentage of 78.7. In the last four games, Seattle has held teams to 40.4 percent shooting (second lowest).
After going 16-of-16 at the foul line against Atlanta on September 4, the Storm hit all 18 of its free throws one week later vs. Los Angeles, marking the second most foul shots without a miss in franchise history. The team record was set on July 1, 2006, when Seattle went 21-for-21 at the foul line against Minnesota. Storm guard Jewell Loyd is among the best free throw shooters in the WNBA, shooting 89.8 percent this year. That’s the third best percentage out of all players with as many or more attempts.
While Jewell Loyd was the star for Seattle in the first two matchups with Phoenix, fellow No. 1 draft pick Breanna Stewart has also played well against the Mercury. She had 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the most recent meeting, coming up just short of the eighth triple-double in league history. In the first meeting, Stewart had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. For the Mercury, star center Brittney Griner is averaging 18.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in her last six games.
- For Storm guard Noelle Quinn, this will be the first game against the Mercury since being traded from Phoenix to Seattle in late June. Quinn spent the entire 2015 season with Phoenix, appearing in all 34 regular-season games and all four playoff games. With the Storm this year, the veteran guard is averaging 2.0 points and 1.5 assists in 13.3 minutes per game.
- Thursday is the final regular-season home game for Mercury forward Penny Taylor, who announced she is retiring at the end of the season. Taylor has played 10 seasons in Phoenix, accumulating three All-Star selections and three championships. The Australian also won two Olympic silver medals and one World Championship gold medal.