Behind Strong Defensive Effort, Seattle Stuns League-Leading Minnesota, Grinds Out 62-61 Home Victory

The Storm held the Lynx to a season-low 61 points en route to a pivotal win over the conference leaders

SEATTLE –– In the final game of a trio of matchups against the Lynx, the Storm saved the best for last, handing Minnesota its fifth loss of the season in a 62-61 contest Wednesday night.

Crystal Langhorne sealed the deal for the Storm, scoring the go-ahead bucket with 11.1 seconds to play. Seattle then held Minnesota on the other end of the floor, in a fitting show of defense, as the team held the Lynx to just 61 points on 33.3 percent shooting Ð both season lows for the number one team in the West.

Jewell Loyd led all scorers with 16 points, Langhorne added 14 on 7-for-9 shooting and Stewart recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Noelle Quinn dished out five assists while only turning the ball over twice.

Maya Moore paced the Lynx offense with 15 points while pulling down 11 rebounds.

The game was tight throughout the first quarter. Loyd kicked off the Storm scoring with a triple, but a Moore three knotted the game at nine at the 5:32 juncture of the opening stanza. With 3:45 to play in the quarter, starting point guard Quinn splashed a trey to reclaim a 14-13 lead, but Seimone Augustus hit one of her own to make it 16-14 Lynx.

At the end of the quarter, a buzzer beating drive and floating finger roll by rookie Alexis Peterson gave the home side a 22-20 edge at the break. Langhorne led all scorers with eight points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting.

At the beginning of the second, interim head coach Gary Kloppenburg trotted out five bench players, and Peterson was the first to strike in the second, sinking a jump shot.

Peterson continued her impressive performance with 6:17 to play, when she weaved into the lane and connected on another contested layup before being knocked to the ground. The bucket represented her sixth point of the game, breaking a previous career high.

Still, Minnesota was converting its possessions on the other end of the floor. A Sylvia Fowles layup tied the game at 31 with just under four minutes to play in the half. Fowles continued her streak of interior dominance, and the Storm didn’t have much of an answer for her ability on the glass. But by crowding the paint and pestering her defensively, the Storm was able to hold her to only eight first half points. The last time Fowles played the Storm in Seattle, she tallied 26 in the first half.

With about a minute to play in the second quarter, Loyd grabbed an acrobatic rebound and led a blistering fast break, driving and kicking to Quinn, who then made an extra pass to Breanna Stewart. The sophomore forward then knocked down the open three to take a 36-31 storm lead D the eventual score at the half.

Rebekkah Brunson went down in the second quarter with a left ankle injury. She was ruled out for the second half of action.

Loyd led all scorers with 10 at the break. Stewart added seven points, four boards and three assists to the Storm effort.

Minnesota pulled level to begin the second half of action, but Stewart hit a shot clock-buzzer beating three to give Seattle the lead.

The sides continued to swap possession of the lead. Quinn made a three pointer to tie her season-high with six points and take a 44-42 lead.

In the waning minutes of the third, Alysha Clark dialed up a three from deep to take a 47-45 lead. The Lynx answered with a bucket, but on the ensuing Seattle possession Langhorne executed a deft spin move in the post and finished a layup to grab a 49-47 advantage.

Natasha Howard scored twice inside as the third quarter wound down. And the Lynx took a two point, 51-49 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Neither team began the final quarter hot from the floor. The only made field goal in the first 2:55 of the quarter came from a Moore layup. But a four-player Storm substitution changed that, and baskets by Loyd and Langhorne tied the game at 54 and ignited a KeyArena crowd. Minnesota Head Coach Cheryl Reeve had to call a timeout.

Stewart grabbed her 10th rebound of the game with 3:44 to play to record her eighth double-double of the season.

Moore dispossessed Clark on the following possession, leading to a loose ball tussle and an eventual Storm shot clock violation. On the other end, Moore drained a three. The Lynx took a 59-56 lead with 3:04 to play.

Clark was fouled hard on a drive to the basket with 1:30 to play. She converted both of her attempts to bring the hosts within one, 58-59.

On the following possession, Moore was granted an opportunity after her team earned an offensive rebound, and she connected on a jump shot to reclaim a three point lead with exactly 1:00 to play in the game. Loyd brushed a layup off the glass to cut the lead to one once again. Then, Seattle stepped up on defense and forced a shot clock violation.

The score was 61-60 with 21.5 seconds to play and Minnesota held the lead. Loyd darted to the rack and her shot was blocked, but Langhorne was right there to collect the ball to finish the go-ahead layup.

Both squads were without their starting point guards. Sue Bird was hobbled with left knee soreness, while Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen was sidelined with a left hand injury. Quinn started in Bird’s place, while Renee Montgomery filled the shoes of Whalen.

Seattle hosts San Antonio on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT. 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).