The Seattle Storm took down the defending champion Minnesota Lynx 85-75 on Friday evening to clinch a spot in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs and improve to 21-7 on the season.
Breanna Stewart led the way for the Storm with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Natasha Howard put in 15 points, six rebounds and a career-high five steals.
Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird each chipped in 14 points, with Bird also tying a season-high tying 11 assists.
Despite being down as much as nine points in the first half, Seattle went on a 10-3 run to close out the second period to trim the lead to just a single point at half at halftime, at 38-37.
The Lynx opened up the third period on a 6-0 run to extend its advantage back to seven early in the third. Seattle finally stopped the run off a floater from Howard, and then went on an 8-0 of its own to trim the lead back to one at 48-47 with five minutes left in the third period. Around the three-minute mark, the Storm then went on another run, this time 6-0, to take the first lead of the half at 54-50.
After taking a 61-57 advantage into the fourth, Seattle opened up the fourth period on a 5-0 run to extend its edge to nine points (66-57). The Storm was essentially able to ride that cushion the rest of the way, outscoring the Lynx 24-18 for the period leading to the 10-point victory.
Head coach Dan Hughes really credited the victory to his team’s defensive play on the night.
“It goes back to our ability defensively, to create some turnovers and play out of our defense in different stages. And we had a kind of physical toughness about us, and we knew it was going to be that kind of game against a quality team.”
- With tonight’s win, Seattle’s improved its league-leading record to 21-7 and clinched its 14th playoff appearance in its 19-year history.
- Tonight’s attendance of 12,064 was the highest for the Storm all season and marked the third-straight sellout for the franchise.
- Bird registered her fifth double-double of the season and 28th of her career with 14 points and 11 assists, tying a season-high effort for dimes, which she has now achieved five times.
- Seattle held the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder, Rebekkah Brunson, to zero rebounds, and Maya Moore, the Lynx’s top scorer who came into tonight averaging over 18 points per game, to just seven on 2-for-9 shooting.
- Howard’s five steals matches a season-high for any Storm player this season (Alysha Clark at Los Angeles on 6/7; Jordin Canada at Dallas on 6/2).
- Loyddished out her 400th-career assist with 2:38 left to play in the fourth quarter.
The Storm tips off a four-game road trip in its next contest against the New York Liberty on Aug. 6. Tip-off is set for 8 a.m./PT.