By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm (10-12) played its last home game of July on Friday night at KeyArena against the Dallas Wings (11-13). After a loss in Los Angeles in which the offense mustered only 60 points, Seattle exploded for a season-high 109 on its way to a 109-93 takedown of the Wings.
Offense and ball movement were the stories of the day, as the Storm tied a franchise record by dealing 29 assists. Seattle also set a franchise record for the best shooting percentage (61.5) and tied a record for the most field goals made in a game with 40.
Each member of the starting unit passed the ball unselfishly, with all of them recording at least four dimes. Breanna Stewart earned 20 or more points for the ninth consecutive contest while also snaring nine boards. She became the quickest WNBA player to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in just 55 career games, as she hauled in her seventh rebound at the 13.4 mark of the third quarter.
Jewell Loyd tied a season high with 27 points, leading all players. Sue Bird handled the offense for most of the night, distributing a team-high six assists in addition to 15 points. Crystal Langhorne ended with 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting numbers. Seattle’s veteran post presence has scored 10 or more points in 13 straight games. Alysha Clark rounded out the starting five with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Seattle opened the game on a 13-7 run thanks to six early points from Langhorne. After forcing a Dallas turnover on the defensive end, Clark scooped up an offensive rebound and put it home to give Seatlte a 17-9 lead. Bird got her team to 25 points by swishing a three from the top of the key at the quarter’s 1:46 mark. Sami Whitcomb and Ramu Tokashiki both checked in with points on the Storm’s final two possessions. The quarter ended with the Storm on top, 34-22.
Dallas turned the ball over four times in the opening frame, while Seattle managed to give it away just once. The Storm’s 34 points in the first ten minutes set a new season-high for points in a quarter. Sharp shooting was certainly a reason for that. Seattle made 14-for-21 field goals (66.7 percent), including all four of its three pointers. Each member of the Storm’s starting five hit a shot in the game’s early going.
Noelle Quinn banked home a finger roll two and a half minutes into the second quarter, giving Seattle eight different players in the scoring column. Stewart finished a shot at the rim off a high-low pass from Langhorne to give the team a 42-30 lead. Langhorne deposited her 14th points of the night off a picture-perfect pick-and-roll with Bird to put Seattle ahead 46-35 as the second quarter waned away. Stewart connected on all three points of an and-one to put Seattle past the 50-point mark with three minutes still to play in the first half.
At halftime, Seattle had a 60-45 lead, and three players (Langhorne, Stewart, Clark) with at least 10 points. Skylar Diggins-Smith was the leader for Dallas with 13 first-half points. Seattle shot 67.6 percent (25-for-37) on field goals in the game’s first half. Storm players also hit 4-for-5 three pointers and sank all six of their free throw attempts. The Storm was able to keep Dallas off the glass (16 to 10 rebound advantage) and stop the Wings’ outside shooters from getting hot (4-for-12 on three pointers in the first half).
Stewart pushed Seattle passed 70 points with a driving layup that resulted in a bucket and a made free throw. With six minutes to go in the third quarter, Seattle had opened a 72-58 gap, and Whitcomb drilled her second three of the night to stretch the lead to 82-65 with three minutes still in the third.
Carolyn Swords netted the final four points of the Storm’s third quarter. She converted a bunny at the rim off a slick pass from Whitcomb to give Seattle a comfortable 86-70 edge at the third quarter buzzer. After three quarters of action, all nine Storm players who hit the court had scored, with every member of the starting five in double figures. Dallas’ carelessness with the ball continued, as the team had stocked up 12 turnovers through three quarters. Those 12 giveaways led to 19 Seattle points. Seattle had its biggest lead of the game (89-70) early in the fourth quarter.
Kayla Thornton knocked down a three to bring Dallas back within 13 points (94-81) with exactly six minutes on the clock. This forced Storm head coach Jenny Boucek to utilize a timeout. The Seattle lead was whittled to nine (94-85) when Diggins-Smith slithered her way to a tough basket in the lane. Two Loyd free throws just under the five-minute juncture gave helped Seattle surpass its previous season-high of 94 points. Loyd later buried a left-handed leaner to eclipse the century mark and put the Storm up by 16 (101-85).
Seattle had no problem holding on to the lead from there. Boucek’s squad put together one of the best offensive shows in team history en route to a 109-93 win.
Seattle’s win could provide much-needed momentum as it hits the road for the next two weeks. 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).