By Matthew Roberson
After a momentous win over the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday, the Seattle Storm (8-9) is scheduled for an afternoon showdown with the Connecticut Sun (10-7) on Wednesday, July 12. The game is slated to start at Noon PDT.
Seattle storms into this matchup coming off an 81-69 triumph against Los Angeles. This win was Seattle’s first of the season against LA and its fourth win in seven games against Western Conference opponents. Breanna Stewart made an impact in several aspects of the game, finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals while also making all eight of her free throw attempts. Stewart has turned in 20-point performances in nine of her last 11 games. Jewell Loyd joined in on the offensive fun versus the Sparks, scoring 22 points on eight-for-13 shooting. Saturday marked the third time this season that both Stewart and Loyd scored 20 points in the same game.
A starter for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2017, Sue Bird turned in a typical offensive game for her, notching 15 points and shooting 85.7 percent from the field. Entering play on Wednesday, she has 2,512 assists over her 16-year career. Bird needs just 88 more to claim the top spot on the list from Ticha Penicheiro and become the WNBA’s assist queen.
Crystal Langhorne has been putting up impressive offensive performances for the past month. She has scored 10 or more points in eight consecutive games, dating back to June 13 against Atlanta. Langhorne has posted seven or more rebounds five times during this stretch as well. Alysha Clark achieved a career milestone in Saturday’s clash with the Sparks, grabbing her 500th-career WNBA rebound.
The Storm is one of two teams in the league that make 47 percent of its total shots. At 47.2 percent, Seattle is behind only Los Angeles for the top spot in the league. The team also places in the top three leaguewide in three-point percentage (36.5), free throw percentage (83.4) and assists per game (18.9).
Ball movement is one of the names of the game for Seattle, and head coach Jenny Boucek says her team needs to channel that energy from the Los Angeles game and take it with them moving forward.
“When we are playing the way we are supposed to be playing, the ball is going to move and people are going to get opportunities, and that’s when all our players thrive,” said Boucek. “We finally got back to that. We haven’t played that way enough this season.”
AT A GLANCE: SUN
The Sun (10-7) is playing some of its best basketball of the season. The team has been victorious in its last four games and eight of its last 10. Connecticut is yet to lose in the month of July.
Offensively, the Sun is capable of getting buckets from many different places. Its roster includes three players (Jonquel Jones, Jasmine Thomas, Alyssa Thomas) who average at least 14 points per game. Each member of that trio also shoots above 40 percent on field goals, while Jones and Jasmine Thomas are both 47 percent or better shooters from the land of three.
In addition to being Connecticut’s leading point getter, Jones also leads the team in snagging rebounds. Her 11.8 rebounds per game is the best in the WNBA. She also leads in the league in rebound percentage, gathering 24 percent of all available rebounds while she’s on the court. Her 31.3 defensive rebound percentage is best in the league as well, with the next closest player at 25.8 percent.
Seattle has had its struggles historically against the Sun. The Storm owns a 14-19 record all-time against the franchise and has gone just 11-18 since the team moved from Orlando to Connecticut.
In 2016, Seattle fought its way to a 2-1 record against Connecticut. The Storm also won both collisions at KeyArena last year. On June 24, 2016, Seattle set a franchise record for margin of victory against Connecticut, besting the Sun by 17 points.
Connecticut took the first meeting between these teams in 2017. In a game played on the Sun’s homecourt in Uncasville, Conn., the Sun warded off a late Seattle comeback to win, 96-89. That game served as the second in a three-games-in-five-days road trip for the Storm.
The Seattle-Connecticut matchup also represents a rematch of the 2004 WNBA Finals. Betty Lennox took home MVP honors in the series, which Seattle won 2-1 to hoist its first ever championship trophy.
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