Storm struggle from field in 73-69 loss to Chicago

EVERETT, Wash. – The long balls kept going up on Friday night.

But not enough of them went down for the Seattle Storm.

Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 28 points for Chicago, with 11 of those during the fourth quarter, and the Sky hung on for a 73-69 victory against the cold-shooting Storm inside Angel Of The Winds Arena.

Playing at home for the first time since an 85-78 victory against Phoenix on July 11 – a span of 47 days – Seattle  (18-9) hit a season-low 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. It connected on 22 of 51 (43.2 percent) from closer range, but wound up at just 25 of 68 (36.8 percent) for the game.

In spite of that, the Storm had the lead from the 2:12 mark of the first quarter all the way though the 2:57 mark of the fourth when Allie Quigley buried a 3-pointer from the right of the lane following a steal and assist from Courtney Vandersloot. That pushed Chicago in front, 66-65.

Just 30 seconds later, another Sky steal, this one by Candace Parker, led to a driving lay-in by Cooper and a 68-65 advantage with 2:27 left.

Seattle cut it to 68-67 on a pair of Breanna Stewart free throws at the 1:09 mark. But during those final 69 seconds, Copper scored the last four of her 28 points – a driving lay-in at 57.3 seconds and two free throws at 34.5 – for a 72-67 Chicago advantage. the Storm missed two more tries from downtown and got only a runner by Jewell Loyd the rest of the way.

Stewart finished with18 points for Seattle, hitting just 4 of 13 from the field, but draining all 10 of her free throws. She also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Loyd tallied 12, and Mercedes Russell finished with 11.

The Sky (13-12), which pulled out an 87-85 overtime victory against the Storm on Aug. 15 in Chicago to start the post-Olympics portion of the season, took a quick 7-2 lead on Friday. Seattle answered with a 12-4 scoring run to go up 14-11, staying in front until that decisive stretch of the fourth quarter.

The Storm were quick out of the blocks after halftime. Up 32-28, they forced the Sky into a shot clock violation on the opening possession, kept them off the scoreboard for the first 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the quarter, and put together a 7-2 run for a 39-30 lead. That was their largest margin of the night.

Chicago got right back into it with a 10-3 burst, coming within 42-40. On three occasions after that, Seattle got it back up to seven, the last time at 53-46 with 1:23 left in the third.

Copper’s 3-pointer from the top of the key tied it at 63-63 with 4:40 remaining. The final lead for the Storm came when Stewart hit a pair of free throws to make it 65-63 with exactly four minutes to go.

While Seattle has clinched a playoff berth, having done so with last Sunday’s 85-78 victory at Washington, it was not able to close any ground on league-leading Connecticut or second-place Las Vegas to gain a double-bye into the semifinals. The Storm are two games behind the Sun (19-6) and one behind the Aces (18-7).

Loyd came up with her 250th career steal, and it was an eye-catcher. Midway through the first quarter, Sue Bird had just scored on a driving lay-in to get Seattle within 11-8. Loyd stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in to make it 11-10 with 4:48 left in the quarter.

The Storm play the second half of their two-game home set against Chicago on Sunday, tipping off at 3:00 p.m. (Channel 13 and Facebook).