By Matthew Roberson
In any sport, the incredible highs that come with playing on the highest level can always be quickly counteracted by difficult lows. For Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the 2017 season will be marred by a knee injury – suffered on May 26 vs. New York – which held her out of action for 13 games.
As always, with injuries comes self-reflection, which Mosqeuda-Lewis did a lot of during her tumultuous year.
“For me personally, I think that I started off really well,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I came in really optimistic, and then the injury kind of took over and took its toll on my body. I think it’s a compilation of all the years I’ve been playing without a break.”
Perhaps the most frustrating part of Mosqueda-Lewis’ injury, which included torn cartilage in her right knee, was the timing of it. Seattle was just four games into its season when the sharpshooter went down. What’s more, Mosqueda-Lewis was playing well at the time of her ill-fated twist of the knee. On May 14 vs. the Indiana Fever, the third-year pro dropped 12 points in 15 minutes of playing time, drilling all six of her free throw attempts.
In the team’s next game, a May 21 home affair with Washington, Mosqueda-Lewis compiled another efficient stat line. She finished with eight points and did not miss a shot, going 3-for-3 from the field and bucketing two three pointers. Coupled with an 11 +/- rating, it was one of the best games a coach can ask for from one of its reserves. Then, just 41 seconds into her first spurt off the bench against New York on May 26, her season came to an abrupt pit stop.
Mosqueda-Lewis had to step aside from the team as it enjoyed a hot start to the season. Despite her devastating injury, the Storm would go on to win the game against New York on May 26 to improve to 3-1. Seattle would go 3-7 in its next 10 games without Mosqueda-Lewis, a key player off the bench capable of providing instant offense.
On July 12, playing in front of the home crowd in Seattle, she would return to the floor against the Connecticut Sun. In 6:54 of game time, she missed both of her field goal attempts but was successful on her two foul shots of the game. Being back on the court was a small victory for Mosqueda-Lewis, but the Storm would lose 83-79.
“It’s in your head,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “You don’t want to do the same thing. It’s in the back of your mind all the time. The recovery was pretty quick as far as the pain. It’s just something I had to play through for the rest of the season.”
A game later in the season – coincidentally also in a loss to Connecticut, marked Mosqueda-Lewis’ emphatic return to form. Playing in the same state where she went to college, with her collegiate coach Geno Auriemma on hand to witness, Mosqueda-Lewis sent home a season-high 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. In a sign that she was truly feeling herself again, she also stroked 3-for-4 shots from beyond the arc, displaying her trademark confidence and smooth mechanics on each jumper.
“I’m definitely not at 100 percent yet,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. “There’s still quite a way to go.”
Storm fans and teammates hope once Mosqueda-Lewis returns to her old self, she can be one of the centerpieces of the team’s future.
- Scored 12 points and made 6-for-6 free throws on May 14 vs. Indiana
- Made all three of her field goal attempts in a May 21 win vs. Washington
- Returned to the court on July 12 vs. Connecticut after missing 13 games with right knee troubles
- Added a season-high 15 points in 13 minutes on Aug. 8 vs. Connecticut
- Sunk 6-for-9 field goals, and 3-for-4 three pointers, on Aug. 8, setting season-highs in each category