Friday, June 3 – 7 p.m. PT
KeyArena | Seattle, WA
JOEtv; WNBA League Pass
After losing its first four games, including a heartbreaker at home against the Storm, Phoenix has beaten Washington and Connecticut to get to 2-4 on the season. Seattle is also 2-4, and the two teams are tied for eighth in the WNBA standings. The Storm is looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s 85-75 loss at Indiana.
Thanks to Jewell Loyd’s game-winner in the final seconds, the Storm won 81-80 in the first matchup of the season. It marked Seattle’s first victory over Phoenix since 2013, snapping a nine-game losing streak. The Storm is 20-10 all-time at home against the Mercury, but hasn’t won any of the past four matchups at KeyArena.
Of all the ways she impacts the game, rookie Breanna Stewart has been especially dominant at the defensive end. She’s fifth in the league with 1.8 blocks per game, and opponents score just 78.4 points per 40 minutes when Stewart is on the court. During the time she’s on the bench, opponents average 107.4 points per 40 minutes.
Despite its 2-4 record, Phoenix has been one of the league’s best offensive teams thus far. The Mercury ranks second in scoring at 86.5 points per game, first in free throw shooting at 84.5 percent and third in three-point percentage (35.1). The defensive end is where Phoenix has struggled: It gives up 87.5 points per game, the most in the WNBA. This comes after two straight seasons of the Mercury ranking top-three in points allowed per possession and Brittney Griner winning Defensive Player of the Year.
The last time these teams met, Jewell Loyd notched a career-high 30 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter as Seattle earned a huge road victory. Loyd scored the final 10 points for Seattle, shooting 6-of-7 from the field in the fourth. The reigning Rookie of the Year is just 26 away from 500 career points heading into Friday’s game. On the other side is Diana Taurasi, the all-time great who is once again among the WNBA leaders in points and assists. Taurasi has converted a league-high 21 three-pointers this year.
- Storm forward Alysha Clark, who made the trip but missed Wednesday’s game against Indiana, is day-to-day with a right knee bruise. Jenna O’Hea made her first start of the season in Clark’s place, scoring six points in 25 minutes.
- As announced Thursday, Storm forward Breanna Stewart was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month for games played in May. In May, Stewart led all rookies in points (17.4 ppg), rebounds (8.8 rpg) and blocks (2.0 bpg) and was second in assists (2.4 apg). She tied for third among all WNBA players in rebounds and blocks and ranked 10th in points while equaling the league high in minutes (36.2 mpg). Stewart scored in double digits every night and recorded a pair of double-doubles as Seattle won two of its five games in May.