By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm returned home from a three-game road trip for a Tuesday night clash with the Atlanta Dream at KeyArena in rematch of last year’s first-round playoff game.
The game was one of the most exciting of the young WNBA season, as the two teams needed an overtime period to settle things. At the end, Atlanta came out with a 91-86 road victory.
Jewell Loyd opened the game by scoring the first nine points for Seattle, and assisting on the next two buckets to tie the game at 13 apiece. She ultimately tied a season high with 27 points, 16 of which came in the first half.
A Jordan Hooper corner three gave Atlanta a 27-20 lead in the second quarter, which was quickly cut to 27-23 when Sue Bird responded by swishing a trey ball of her own with 6:30 remaining in the half. Atlanta’s lead would swell to as many as 10 points in the first half. Damiris Dantas’ jumper with 2:36 left gave the Dream a 41-31 lead.
Seattle (5-5) made the score close (42-38) entering halftime thanks to a 7-1 run to close out the second quarter. Atlanta’s offense thrived inside in the game’s early going, scoring 22 of its 42 first half points in the paint.
Atlanta opened the second half with four turnovers in the first three minutes. A Crystal Langhorne bucket gave Seattle a 46-44 lead early in the third quarter, its first since the Storm led 4-0 in the game’s opening sequences. The Dream came out of halftime struggling on offense, as the team connected on just two of its first eight shots in the game’s second half.
The third quarter came to a close with the Dream clinging to a five-point lead (62-57) thanks to a Meighan Simmons three pointer from the top of the key. A three pointer by Dantas ballooned Atlanta’s fourth quarter lead to eight points (67-59) with 7:53 to play.
Alysha Clark scooped in a layup at the 6:27 mark of the fourth quarter to bring the Storm within six points (69-63). Later, Loyd sunk a free throw with 1:42 to go to cut the deficit to three (76-73). With the score at 77-75 and just 37.3 seconds left in regulation, Loyd drove hard to the basket and drew a foul on Atlanta’s Matee Ajavon. Loyd calmly buried both foul shots, her 13th and 14th of the night, to even things up at 77.
After a dramatic defensive stand and a Bird rebound, the Storm called its last timeout of the game. With 20.6 seconds remaining, Seattle inbounded the ball with a chance to win the game. As time expired, Loyd hoisted a contested shot that went begging, sending the Storm to its first overtime game of the season.
Bird drilled a three on Seattle’s first possession to make it 80-79 Seattle, but the Storm came up empty on its next six possessions. Bria Holmes went on to go 7-for-8 from the line in the overtime period , and Atlanta ultimately found itself with an 86-80 lead.
A layup from Clark brought the Storm to within two (86-84) in the game’s final seconds. After two Noelle Quinn free throws carved Atlanta’s lead to 87-86, Breanna Stewart was called for a clear path foul and the Dream was able to seal the game at the free throw line, winning 91-86.
Stewart added 16 for the Storm, while Langhorne booked her first double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 boards.
For Atlanta (5-4), Dantas registered a career-high 22 points and season-high six rebounds. Holmes added 15 points and seven boards, scoring seven of Atlanta’s 14 overtime points.
Seattle continues its home stand on Sunday against San Antonio, with tipoff set for 4 p.m. PDT. Fans can secure the best seats in the house with Storm 360 Memberships, available now, starting at $180, available online or by calling (206) 217-WNBA (9622). Packages and group discounts are available at 206-217-WNBA (9622).