Reigning Rookie of the Year Scores Career-High 30 Points; Seattle Improves to 1-1
PHOENIX – Jewell Loyd scored a career-high 30 points, including the game-winning shot with 2.9 seconds remaining, to give the Seattle Storm an 81-80 win over the Phoenix Mercury at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday night. Loyd, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year, scored 12 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter as the Storm (1-1) picked up its first win of the 2016 season.
With Seattle trailing by one in the final seconds, Loyd dribbled from the top of the key toward the right wing, banking in a shot before Phoenix called timeout to set up an attempt of its own. Diana Taurasi was unable to convert on the other end, and the Storm secured its first win over the Mercury since 2013, snapping a nine-game losing streak against its Western Conference foe.
Loyd, who finished 12-of-20 from the field, became the sixth player in franchise history to score 30 points in a game. Rookie forward Breanna Stewart recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, tying Lauren Jackson for the most rebounds by a Seattle rookie. Sue Bird added 17 points, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, to go along with four assists in Friday’s victory.
The Storm got off to a slow start on Friday, trailing by as many as 13 in the first quarter and finishing with just 12 points in the period. Seattle outscored Phoenix in each of the remaining three quarters, thanks in large part to nine converted three-point attempts. After making just one shot from beyond the arc in its season-opening loss, the Storm made eight three-pointers in the first half on Friday, including seven in the second quarter. At halftime, Bird was 4-of-6 from deep and Loyd was 3-of-4.
Phoenix held a 43-37 edge at the break, but the Storm came from behind to take a 51-50 lead, its first advantage since the opening minute. That lead lasted just 58 seconds, and Seattle wasn’t in front again until Loyd’s game-winning shot in the final seconds.
Crystal Langhorne had 11 points and seven boards on Friday, making it four Seattle players in double figures. Phoenix was led by Taurasi (25 points) and Brittney Griner (19 points). The Mercury, which has made it to the Conference Finals three straight years and won the title in 2014, drops to 0-3 on the season.
The Storm will host the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx at 4 p.m. on Sunday in its home opener, the first of 15 regular-season home games televised locally on JOEtv. Six of the 12 players representing the United States at this summer’s Olympics will be on the court Sunday night.