By Matthew Roberson
The Seattle Storm (10-14) played the first game of a back-to-back on Friday night against the high-flying Dallas Wings (12-14). After matching the Wings’ point total in the first quarter, Seattle struggled to keep up and ended up dropping a 93-80 setback.
The home team showed why they’re one of the best offensive squads in the league. Dallas had six players pour in at least 10 points, and nine different players put the ball in the hoop. Jewell Loyd left the College Park Center with 23 points on 8-for-19 shooting. Breanna Stewart got over the 20-point hump for the 11th consecutive game, and the 17th time in 2017 on her way to 21 points. Crystal Langhorne hit pay dirt on 5-for-8 shots and made all six of her free throws, totaling 16 points.
Dallas jumped out to an early 10-4 lead thanks to eight quick points from Karima Christmas-Kelly. Stewart drilled a big three to kill some of the Wings’ early momentum and make the score 17-12 in favor of Dallas. Skylar Diggins-Smith buried her own three on the ensuing possession, opening an eight-point lead for her side and forcing the Storm into its first timeout of the ballgame. Loyd scored her first points of the game on a long ball from the top of the key, bringing Seattle within three points (20-17).
With just 12 seconds to go in the first frame, Loyd scooped home a layup off a broken play and was fouled while doing it. Her free throw after the make tied the score at 23. This would hold as the score at the end of the first quarter. The Wings shot 50 percent (8-for-16) from the field in the first, and sunk 5-for-7 three pointers. Seattle was not far off, as the Storm shot 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) on field goals and 3-for-7 behind the three-point line.
The Wings began the second quarter on a 9-2 run before Langhorne spun her way to basket in the low post. Langhorne had 10 points early in the second quarter, giving her double-digit figures in the scoring column for the 14th time in her last 15 contests. A Stewart three splashed home from the right corner to put her above 10 points and make the score 39-36 Dallas. Allisha Gray connected on two straight threes to push the lead to 47-38. The Wings flew into halftime with a 55-42 lead, with the 13-point advantage serving as their biggest lead of the half.
Dallas set a season-high for three pointers (13) before the halftime buzzer even sounded, and the number also set a WNBA record for three’s in a half. Five different Wings converted at least two three pointers in the game’s first 20 minutes. Diggins-Smith led all players in both points and assists in the first half, posting 13 and six, respectively. Loyd did most of the heavy lifting for the Storm, scoring 13 of her 23 points in the first half of play. Stewart finished the first half with 11 points, while Sue Bird served up five assists. The Wings shot 52.8 percent (19-for-36) and outrebounded their opponent 20 to 13 through two quarters of basketball.
A 10-1 run extended Dallas’ lead to 16 points at the third quarter’s six-minute mark (68-52). The Wings, who entered the game as the third-highest scoring team in the league, outscored Seattle 57-38 in the second and third quarters. Head coach Fred Williams’ team possessed an 80-61 lead with one final quarter left.
Seattle scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to get back within 15 points. Diggins-Smith bottomed a three early in the fourth to give the Wings 16 makes from deep, setting a new franchise record. Dallas coasted for most of the fourth quarter before flying away with a 93-81 victory. Loyd set a new season high by draining her fourth three pointer of the game at the 5:47 point in the fourth quarter. She is shooting 47.4 percent (18-for-38) from deep in the Storm’s last 10 outings.
Three pointers were the story of the game for Dallas. The team was successful on 16-for-26 (61.5 percent) attempts. Seattle was a respectable 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc, but it was not enough to keep pace with the Wings. Diggins-Smith led the way with 23 points and seven assists, while her teammate Glory Johnson had an 11-point, 16-rebound double-double.
Seattle heads to San Antonio tomorrow to face the Stars at 7 p.m. CT. 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).