BRADENTON, Fla. — In perhaps its most complete performance of the playoffs so far, the No. 2 Seattle Storm controlled the pace en route to a 92-71 series-clinching victory over the No. 4 Minnesota Lynx.
Breanna Stewart led the Storm with an all-time playoff performance, scoring a career-high and tying a franchise record with 31 points, pulling down six rebounds, dishing out seven assists, swiping three steals, and sending back two shots.
“She’s been in those kind of moments her whole career, and she relishes it,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “She just has it. That players that can come in and step up and play at a high, high level in a situation like that.”
After a back and forth beginning, the Storm began to separate midway through the first quarter, going on a 17-0 run to lead by double digits to start the second frame. Seattle assisted on eight of its first 10 made baskets, led by Sue Bird and Stewart, who combined for 16 points and seven assists in the opening quarter.
The second quarter continued with more Storm dominance, opening up a 15-point lead by halftime and holding the Lynx to just 32.4% shooting. Stewart and Bird continued to lead the way, with Stewart scoring 16 points, pulling down six rebounds, and dishing out five assists at the halftime mark, alone.
Minnesota briefly climbed back into the game, bringing it down to single digits in the third quarter, but Seattle pulled away again thanks to Stewart, who had 28 points through three quarters and finished the game with a franchise record 31.
The Storm featured three double-digit scorers in Stewart, Bird (16 points), and Mercedes Russell (10 points).
With five days off before a WNBA Finals matchup with either the Las Vegas Aces or Connecticut Sun, the Storm are coming in with a ton of momentum.
“We’re still on this journey to getting to where we can be, and we know whoever we face in the Finals, it’s not going to be easy,” Bird said. “That’s why you’re in the Finals, it’s always going to be a grind. So we’re going to work on some stuff this week, get some rest, hopefully we can put ourselves in a good position.”
TOP STAT TO KNOW
#SayHerName: It has been 198 days since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her own apartment. There has still been no justice.
- Breanna Stewart tied Lauren Jackson for most points in a postseason game with 31, setting a new career-high. Stewart shot 14-of-22 from the field, also setting the franchise record for field goals made in a single postseason game.
- Stewart also contributed heavily to a franchise-record 31 team assists in a playoff game, with seven of her own. Stewart’s seven assists without a single turnover is also a franchise record. Sue Bird led Seattle with nine assists in the win. The Storm’s assist to turnover ratio of 6.2 shattered a previous WNBA playoff all-time best of 5.5 set by the Washington Mystics in 2019.
- With her scoring performance, Stewart also moved to third all-time in franchise history in career playoff points, with 308 through just 13 career postseason games. Stewart only trails Bird and Lauren Jackson. Stewart’s career postseason scoring average of 23.7 points per game is the best in WNBA history.
- The Storm bench showed up with 32 points to the Minnesota bench’s seven, led by Mercedes Russell (10).