By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm (10-15) finished off its back-to-back series against the Texas teams with a Saturday night showdown against the pesky San Antonio Stars (6-21). After falling behind by as much as 18 points, Seattle battled its way back to force overtime, eventually losing 87-80.
San Antonio showed why it has been trending in the right direction as of late. The Stars had 10 different players tally at least two points and got 25 points from its group of reserves. Breanna Stewart notched her second 30-point game of the season, finishing with a season-high 32. Jewell Loyd shot her way to 16 points, including the three ball that forced overtime with just over five seconds left. Sami Whitcomb topped double figures off the bench for the third time in her young career, accumulating 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Seattle got off to a slow start, scoring just six points in the game’s first five minutes. At the first dead ball, San Antonio had a 10-6 lead in its back pocket. Head coach Jenny Boucek utilized her bench heavily in the first quarter, playing Carolyn Swords, Noelle Quinn and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in the initial stanza. San Antonio built a 22-18 lead after 10 minutes, despite 10 points from Stewart.
San Antonio scored the first seven points of the second until Sue Bird found a diving Alysha Clark for an easy lay-in at the cup. Quinn cashed in a free throw line jumper late in the second quarter to make the score 37-27 in favor of the Stars. An end-of-the-shot-clock trey from Shay Murphy pushed the silver and black advantage to its highest point of the first half, 43-27. Stewart scored six straight points to get her team back within 10 points (43-33) as the second quarter clock ticked away.
Loyd hit a three just before the buzzer to make the halftime score 48-36 San Antonio. Stewart led all scorers at the break with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting. No other Seattle player had more than five points at the half. The Storm shot 46.1 percent from the floor in quarters one and two, but were undone by nine turnovers. The team also struggled to find the net from the free throw and three-point lines. Storm shooters went just 5-for-8 from the foul line and 3-for-9 from downtown.
The home team had a much more successful half shooting the rock. The first half box score showed a 7-for-13 mark from behind the arc, buoyed by a 3-for-4 line by Kelsey Plum. Dearica Hamby scored 10 first half points off the bench, putting her behind only Plum’s 13 in the first half scoring column. San Antonio was boosted greatly by seven offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Forward Alex Montgomery popped out on the first half stat sheet with her eight points, four assists and four rebounds. Clark paced the Storm with four rebounds at the horn, while Loyd and Bird each contributed four assists.
Stewart knocked in a midrange J at 5:32 in the third to give her 12 straight games with at least 20 points. Bird cut the Storm deficit to 12 (56-44) on a fast break layup, leading to a San Antonio timeout. The Storm executed an impressive 8-0 run to claw its way to 46 points, trailing 56-46.
Whitcomb provided a much-needed spark in the third quarter. The rookie out of Washington saw her first action in the third and posted a 10 +/- rating in addition to saucing four assists in just over six minutes of playing time. At the end of three quarters, the Stars clung to a 63-55 edge. Stewart was sitting on 28 points with an entire quarter still to go. San Antonio had four players in double figures through the first three frames.
Whitcomb brought Seattle back to a four-point hole (63-59) with a nifty step-through layup just under the eight-minute juncture of the fourth. She then wet a three to give Seattle the first seven points of the fourth and slice the Stars’ lead to one. A steal in the backcourt and immediate layup gave Stewart 30 points and inched Seattle to within three points (69-66). After a frenetic end to the fourth quarter, Loyd tied the game at 72 on a three pointer from the top of the key. San Antonio failed to score on its final possession of regulation, and the game pushed on into a five-minute overtime period.
Whitcomb struck first in overtime by nailing a three to put Seattle in front 75-72, its first lead since being up 2-0. The scoreboard read 78-78 with two minutes remaining in overtime. Plum then sent home a momentous three to put San Antonio in the driver’s seat. The Storm never recovered from there, as free throws helped San Antonio seal the deal and earn its first three-game winning streak since 2014.
Seattle will leave the Lone Star State and head north for a game with the surging Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. ET. The Storm’s next home game is Aug. 16 against Minnesota. 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).