By Matthew Roberson
After a quick three game road trip, the Seattle Storm (7-8) will take the court at KeyArena once again as it welcomes the New York Liberty (7-7) to town on Thursday, July 6. The game is slated to start at 7 p.m. PDT.
Seattle is fresh off an 89-69 win in Arlington against the Dallas Wings. This win snapped Dallas’ four-game winning streak and ended a three-game losing streak for the Storm. Breanna Stewart played her best game of the season, stuffing the stat sheet with 30 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Stewart is one of two players in the league (along with Sylvia Fowles) currently in the top seven of points, rebounds and blocks per game. Crystal Langhorne set a season-high for points as well against the Wings, scoring 19 on 9-for-12 shooting. Her 64.6 field goal percentage this year is second in the WNBA.
Sue Bird reached another milestone for her storied career on Saturday. By finding a cutting Stewart underneath the basket on an inbound play, Bird eclipsed the 2,500-assist threshold. She is just the second player in league history to ever reach this mark, and she now needs just 94 more to claim the top spot on the list from Ticha Penicheiro. Bird finished with a game-high eight assists in the win against Dallas.
Alysha Clark also attained a career milestone versus the Wings. She passed the 1,000-point total on her way to scoring 10 points in the game. Seattle made 56.9 percent of its field goals, including 9-for-20 (45 percent) from deep. The Storm defense held Dallas to 35.3 percent from the field and allowed the Wings’ offense to hit just 1-for-17 threes (5.9 percent).
The Storm holds the second highest field goal percentage in the league at 47.6 percent. Seattle’s 36.1 percent success rate on three pointers is good for fourth in the league, and the team gets 26.2 percent of its total points from three pointers, which is the highest in the WNBA. Seattle’s 19.3 assists per game ranks second among all teams.
Stewart spoke after the win of the importance of tasting victory before returning home to the Emerald City.
“This is the type of game we’ve been waiting for,” said Stewart. “We’ve kind of been going through a little bit of a lull since the start of the season. To be able to get this win on the road, the last game of our three-game road trip, it’s huge for us.”
AT A GLANCE: LIBERTY
New York is playing its third game of a four-game road trip. The Liberty lost the first two, falling to conference foes Washington and Atlanta. Overall, New York is 1-4 in its last five games.
Tina Charles is the leader of New York’s team, both offensively and defensively. Charles is fourth in the league in points per game (19.6) and third in rebounds (8.9). The four-time All-Star and reigning scoring champion also makes 85.2 percent of her free throws, ranking eighth among players taking four foul shots per game.
Epiphanny Prince serves as the main facilitator for New York’s offense. She delivers 4.3 assists per game while also scoring 14.1 points per game, the second best of any Liberty player. New York comes in as the best rebounding team in the league. On a per game basis, the team collects 37.6 rebounds. Ball movement is not one of the team’s strengths, as New York is second to last in the league in assists per game (15.4)
These teams have met twice already this season and split the results. In the most recent bout, the Liberty came away with a 94-86 victory at Madison Square Garden.
In 2016, Seattle went 1-2 against New York, getting its only win in a 102-78 shellacking on the Liberty’s home floor. Jewell Loyd shone bright that day, scoring 25 points in what was the second game of a key four-game winning streak late in the season for Seattle. The 102 points is the most the Storm has ever scored versus the Liberty.
Seattle won its first contest of the year with New York on May 26. Entering the fourth quarter trailing by five, Seattle held New York to just 11 points in the final frame to ensure the 87-81 win. Sami Whitcomb, playing in just her third ever WNBA game, was Seattle’s high scorer with 22 points on 6-for-8 three pointers and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
In the all-time series, the Storm is 16-18 against New York. A win on Thursday would be just the second time since 2012 that Seattle beat the Liberty at KeyArena.
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