Loyd scored 22 points to lead Storm
SEATTLE – For the first 10 minutes, the Seattle Storm went toe-to-toe with the Las Vegas Aces.
But one big scoring run was all the hot-shooting defending WNBA champions needed to take command of the game.
And they never gave it back.
Jewell Loyd pumped in 22 points for Seattle, but Las Vegas had six players in double figures, led by the 23 points each of Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum on the way to a 105-64 victory in Saturday afternoon’s season-opening game at Climate Pledge Arena.
Las Vegas used a 16-2 scoring burst bridging the first and second quarters to snap a 14-14 tie and take a 32-16 lead. The first 11 of those points were in a row, and by the time they were done, the Aces stayed ahead by double digits for the rest of the day.
Loyd was the only Storm player to reach double figures. She also grabbed four rebounds, handed out three assists, and came up with two blocked shots, as well.
What is essentially an almost brand-new Seattle team found itself battling a veteran Las Vegas squad that seemingly could not miss on Saturday. The Aces shot 54.6 percent from the field (40 of 73), including an eye-popping 61.1 percent from 3-point range (11 of 18). They also hit 82.4 percent from the foul line (14 of 17).
Shots did not go down so easily for the Storm, as they hit 32.1 percent from the floor (25 of 78) and just 23.8 percent from downtown (5 of 21).
“They’re the defending champs and they’re a well-oiled machine,” Storm head coach Noelle Quinn said. “I thought we had some good things happen in the first quarter, and there was some slippage after that. What can’t slip is how hard we work. This is the first game, not the end of the season. We’ll look at film and get better.”
Las Vegas ran off eight points in a row midway through the first quarter to go from 8-6 behind to 14-8 ahead.
But the Storm responded with six in a row to climb back into a tie: a lay-in by Ezi Magbegor, a steal and a coast-to-coast lay-in by Ivana Djokic, and a five-footer from the right of the lane by first-round draft choice Jordan Horston for her first WNBA points.
That’s when Las Vegas started its game-breaking run, getting the final four points of the first quarter for an 18-14 edge, and the first seven of the second quarter to make it 25-14.
A lay-in by Magbegor got the Storm back on the board before the Aces ran off the next seven to make it 32-16.
The Storm were still within reach at halftime, down 43-28. But by the midpoint of the third quarter, the Aces had pushed the lead up to 23 at 58-35.
Horston finished her WNBA debut with eight points, leading a 25-point performance from the Storm’s reserves. Her solid overall stat line also included five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in nearly 23 minutes, 45 seconds
Mercedes Russell led the Storm on the boards with nine.
Loyd’s 22 points continued her trend of scoring well against Las Vegas, as she now averages 14.6 points in 28 games.
The Storm have a five-day break before hosting the Dallas Wings on Friday, May 26. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. That is their longest stretch between game this season with the exception of an eight-day break surrounding the All-Star Game in mid July.