Behind record-setting crowd, Storm edges Fever, 85-83

Mark Moschetti/Seattle Storm

SEATTLE – Jewell Loyd was back to her sharp-shooting self. And Nneka Ogwumike was back in action.

The Seattle Storm needed every bit of both of them — and then some — on Wednesday night.

Loyd poured in 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field, and Ogwumike, after missing two games with an ankle injury, added 22, as the Storm hung to beat Indiana in front of a team-record home crowd at Climate Pledge Arena, 85-83.

Ezi Magbegor chipped in 14 points, and Sami Whitcomb came off the bench for 10 in front of 18,343 fans as Indiana’s Caitlin Clark came to Seattle for the first time as a professional. Clark wound up with 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, with 16 of those points coming after halftime.

Loyd made it a double-double with 11 rebounds. Ogwumike and Magbegor came within one rebound of a double-double, each grabbing nine.

“It’s our fifth game of the season, and for us to pull out a win like that – hey, a win is a win,” head coach Noelle Quinn said. “This league is a tough 12 teams, and everyone is talented. We are fairly new in these moments as this unit together – not as individuals, but in that environment.”

An 8-0 scoring run midway through the fourth quarter helped Seattle (2-3) turn a 72-71 deficit into a 79-72 lead with 3:13 to go.

But this one was far from finished. The Fever (0-5) put the next five points on the board, the last three of those by Clark on a three-shot foul. The Storm twice got it back to a four-point edge, the last time at 83-79 on a lay-in by Magbegor at the 1:07 mark.

The teams traded scoreless possessions, then Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell scooped one in with 14 seconds left to make it 83-81. She thought she was going to the line for a chance at a three-point play, as Ogwumike was whistled for a foul. But the Storm challenged, and the call was overturned. The basket counted, but Seattle had the ball back.

Loyd had a chance to ice it with two free throws at 13.2 seconds. The first one went in for 84-81, but the second one bounced off.

Clark then cut it to 84-83 on a pair of free throws with 11.3 to go. The Storm used a timeout to advance the ball to frontcourt, but then had trouble inbounding. What was initially ruled a jump ball was overturned on a challenge, giving it back to Indiana.

After a timeout, the Fever inbounded under their own basket and got it into Clark in the right corner. Under defensive pressure from Whitcomb, the ball got away, and there was a multi-player scramble for it at the foul line. A jump ball was finally called with 4.7 to play between Ogwumike and Aliyah Boston. The Storm gained control, and Ogwumike was fouled at 2.6 seconds.

Ogwumike missed the first free throw, but hit the second for an 85-83 lead. Indiana was out of timeouts, so had to inbound from backcourt, and Boston’s heave from just over the midcourt line as time expired fell short.

“I thought there was a lot of poise and lot of communication down the stretch, a lot of focus to complete plays,” said head coach Noelle Quinn.

Loyd hit 11 of her first 16 shots and had 21 points and eight rebounds by halftime. Along with her final totals of 32 and 11, she also dished out six assists and had two steals.

“I was just kind of being clear in my head and was in a good space coming into today’s game,” Loyd said. “I just changed my routine a little bit. I don’t need too much. I was just allowing my teammates to guide me and tell me what they see.”

Although many in the record-setting crowd came to get a look at Clark, their loyalties were still with the Storm as it got down to crunch time.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be in Seattle where they show up when we need them,” Loyd said. “It’s nice to have that atmosphere. We definitely needed it and used it to our advantage, for sure.”

Added Ogwumike, who was used to the crowd being against her during her 12 years with the Los Angeles Sparks, “I’m not new to that type of atmosphere in Seattle. It was big part of why I was excited to come here just because of the dedication and the intensity of the people who follow us. It was fun playing in front of that crowd today.”



–The Storm hit 41.5 percent from the floor (34 of 82). Along with Loyd’s 12 of 24, Ogwumike drained 10 of 15. She is at 62.2 percent for the season (28 of 45).

— Seattle cut way down on its turnovers, committing just nine that led to just six points for the Fever.

— With her visa issue now cleared up, rookie guard Nika Muhl made her official pro debut, coming in with 2:39 left in the third quarter. She grabbed two rebounds and had a good look at a 3-pointer that barely rimmed out.

–Loyd had three double-doubles in her first 286 career games. Wednesday’s was her second of the season and her fourth in the past nine games, dating back to last year.



The Storm have an off day on Thursday, return to practice on Friday, then tip off against the Washington Mystics on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in Climate Pledge. It will be their second match-up in seven days. Seattle won in D.C. last Sunday, 84-75.