SEATTLE–A record night for Jewell Loyd highlighted a 14-point comeback as the Storm used a strong second half push to beat Washington 69-59 on Sunday night.
It was the second straight win for the Storm and it will look to make it three in a row when it hosts Tulsa on Thursday.
“We came together and we fought back,” Loyd said. “We got more aggressive. We made plays for each other and our defense was on point tonight… We knew we had to step it up a notch, get in a good rhythm, defensive rhythm and that’s what we did. Our post players fought it out and it transferred to the guards and then the energy in the building helped us into a really good rhythm.”
After a solid second quarter, the Storm rolled that same pressure into the third but Washington was able to maintain a 48-38 lead on a layup from Natasha Cloud with 5:11 left in the quarter. That layup would be the last points Washington scored in the next 8:47 of game time.
The Storm forced Washington into six turnovers in the period and capitalized with 10 points off the Mystics miscues. Led by Crystal Langhorne’s eight in the quarter, the Storm outscored Washington 20-9 and shot 6-for-8 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line to take a two-point lead into the fourth.
“She’s big,” Loyd said. “She is one of our vets. She’s been here before and done this. She’s talking more and being a really big mentor for a lot of us young players.”
Seattle hit its first 20 free throws on the night. Langhorne finished with 15 points on 6-for-11 from the field.
Seattle piled on the the fourth and took a 57-48 lead after Jenna O’Hea hit a pair of free throws. The free throws capped a 19-0 run for the Storm.
Washington finally broke through and cut it to two on a layup and free throw from Stephanie Dolson.
On the next Washington possession, Loyd picked off a pass and was fouled as she crossed midcourt. She hit both free throws and gave Seattle a 59-55 lead.
Loyd finished with 18 points on 14-for-14 from the free throw line. The 14 attempts without a miss set a franchise record, which was previously led by Lauren Jackson who went 13-for-13 on Aug. 3, 2006 against Washington.
Loyd had the ball in her hands again on the next trip down and skipped a pass across to an open O’Hea who hit the three to push the lead back to seven.
“I think with a lot of young players,” Storm head coach Jenny Boucek said. “The less they have to think, the better because their instincts can come out. Jewell, in particular, has phenomenal athleticism and basketball instincts.
“I’m just trying to stay out of her way as much as possible and not mess her up. When she is playing free, she usually does a lot of good things. I thought today she was pretty instinctual in what she was doing, didn’t have hesitation, and wasn’t missing moments.”
Washington would get no closer than three the rest of the way.
After the Mystics shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, Seattle led them to 31.3 percent the rest of the way.
It was the 10th straight victory for the Storm over Washington at KeyArena, the longest such streak against any team.
With the Storm holding onto an early 9-8 lead, the Mystics started to pound the ball into the paint and Kai Vaughn led the charge. She came off the bench to score the first six points during a 10-0 run for Washington to give the Mystics a 18-9 lead.
Washington outrebounded Seattle 13-6 in the first quarter and scored 16 of its 22 points in the paint.
The Mystics went up by as much as 14 in the half but Loyd started to bring the Storm back.
Loyd continued to attack the basket and earned four trips to the line in the quarter. She went 8-for-8 from the line in the second and scored a team-high 10 points in the half.
The defense also started to step up and held Washington to 31.5 percent in the second.