Despite 24 Points and 16 Rebounds From Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm Falls 78-74 to New York Liberty

Storm Cuts 18-Point Deficit to One in Fourth Quarter; Seattle’s Record Stands at 6-12

NEW YORK – After nearly overcoming an 18-point deficit on the second night of a back-to-back, the Seattle Storm lost 78-74 to the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Rookie forward Breanna Stewart recorded game highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds as Seattle dropped to 6-12 on the season.

New York had a comfortable lead for most of the contest, but the Storm rallied in the fourth quarter and pulled within two at the 1:14 mark on one of Stewart’s four three-pointers. Neither team was able to score until Storm guard Sue Bird was fouled with four seconds to go. Bird made her first free throw but missed the second, the Liberty secured the rebound, and Tanisha Wright drained a pair of free throws to make it 77-74. New York’s Sugar Rodgers stole the ensuing inbounds pass and added a free throw to clinch the victory.

Wright and Tina Charles paced the Liberty (13-6) with 18 points apiece, while Rodgers added 14 and seven assists. Stewart, who shot 9-for-18 from the field, notched her second straight double-double and her seventh of the season. Bird added to her league-leading assist total by notching 10 helpers Wednesday night, tying her season high. Second-year wing Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored a season-high 10 points off the bench.

Seattle kept it close in the opening minutes, but New York jumped out to a double-digit lead late in the first quarter as Rodgers and Charles started to take control. The Liberty made 10 if its first 14 shots, while the Storm started just 3-of-14 from the floor. It was the second straight low-scoring first quarter for the Storm, which managed 11 points Wednesday night while New York put up 23 on 57.9 percent shooting.

After trailing 31-13 early in the second, Seattle climbed back into the game thanks to four three-pointers, including two from Stewart. The Storm went on an 11-2 spurt to trim the deficit to single digits, sparked by threes from Stewart and Mosqueda-Lewis. Stewart scored nine of her 12 first-half points in the second frame, and New York led by just six at halftime.

Rodgers, who leads the league in three-pointers this season, hit a trio of them in the opening minutes of the second half. Alysha Clark scored six straight points to keep the Storm within striking distance. New York extended its lead to double digits again, and it took a 64-54 edge into the fourth quarter before Stewart and company nearly completed their comeback.

With its second victory over the Storm, New York clinches the season series between the teams. Seattle is back in action Friday night, when it takes on the San Antonio Stars at 6 p.m. PT.