BRADENTON, Fla. — Powered by a quick start and Breanna Stewart’s 21 points, the Seattle Storm (3-1) outpaced the Los Angeles Sparks (2-2) Saturday afternoon. Without starting point guard Sue Bird, the Storm were able to stifle the Sparks’ offense to the tune of an 81-75 victory.
“I think that it was just a classic competitive game with L.A. It was really important for us, even though it is early, the way we bounced back,” Stewart said. “We didn’t like how we played the other night and finishing this week off the right way before we have a lot of games in a row was super important.”
Along with Stewart, Seattle had double-digit scoring efforts from five players, with Jewell Loyd scoring 17, Jordin Canada scoring 16, Ezi Magbegor dropping 12, and Alysha Clark scoring 11.
The Sparks were led in scoring by Candace Parker, who dropped 19 points and secured a double-double with 12 rebounds.
After struggling defensively against the Washington Mystics on Thursday, Seattle responded with a dominant defensive effort in the first half. The Storm held the Sparks to 30.6% shooting percentage in the opening half, and limited them to just two three-pointers, with no Sparks players scoring in double figures. Even after a stronger second half, the Sparks finished with a 38.7% field goal percentage.
“It’s just one of those kind of games that wasn’t a smooth flowing game,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “But we dug in and got a couple of stops when we had to get them and we went down and got a couple buckets mixed in there. We were able to kind of scratch this one out.”
On the offensive end, Seattle got off to a strong start, opening the game on a 14-1 run, with much of the damage coming from Loyd, who scored 11 points in the first quarter. With six first half three-pointers, Seattle had already eclipsed its three-point total in its previous game against the Mystics. Paired with Stewart’s 15 points, the Storm led 45-29 heading into the halftime break.
Los Angeles finally picked up steam on offense in the third quarter, almost doubling their scoring output from the first half in the third period, alone, scoring 26 points in the frame. Heading into the fourth, a lead that had once been 17 was cut to 10 for the Storm.
The comeback continued for the Sparks in the fourth quarter, opening the frame on an 8-1 run and cutting the lead as low as three. The Storm went through over half of the final quarter without a made basket until Canada finally scored on a layup with 4:41 remaining. Seattle did just enough in the final minutes to hold off Los Angeles for its third win of the season.
“For me, on the defensive end, just being aggressive,” Canada said. “I bring the spark for this team…. That was pretty much my mindset going down the stretch. Offensively, it was to slow them down. I know that last week I had times kind of rushing and turning the ball over multiple times, so I had to make it up on the defensive end.”
TOP STAT TO KNOW
- #SayHerName: It has been 141 days since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her own apartment. The officers responsible for her death have not been arrested.
- Seattle avenged a 2019 second-round playoff loss to Los Angeles with an 81-75 win on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla. It marked the 350th victory in Storm history.
- The Storm opened the game on a 14-1 run with Jewell Loyd accounting for 11 points and 3-of-5 shooting from deep in the first quarter alone. She finished with 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
- Breanna Stewart amassed double-digit points for the 100th time in her WNBA career with a team-high 21 points. She also led the team with 9 rebounds and 4 steals and added 5 assists.
- For the second time this season, Alysha Clark led the Storm in assists, dishing out 6 dimes – one shy of her career-high. Clark scored 11 points and assisted on another 15, including 13 of Stewart’s points.
- 20-year old Australian WNBA rookie Ezi Magbegor finished with 12 points, including the final basket to seal the win for Seattle. On the season, Magbegor is shooting 73.7 percent from the field (14-of-19 FG).
- Starting in place of Sue Bird (rest), Jordin Canada finished with 16 points. Since the start of last season, the Storm is 10-1 when Canada scores at least 12 points.
LOS ANGELES NOTES
- After she was held to six points in the first half, Candace Parker led a Sparks charge out of the break with 13 points (6-9 FG) and 7 rebounds in the second half to pull within one possession of Seattle. Parker finished the game with 19 points and 12 rebounds.
- Veteran guard Seimone Augustus came off the L.A. bench for 12 points. She has scored in double-figures in three of four games for the Sparks.
- The Sparks whittled a game-high 17-point deficit to 3 in the final frame, and outscored Seattle by 10 in the second half.
Seattle will move forward this week to take on the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, Aug. 4, at 9 p.m. ET before taking on the Atlanta Dream on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN2.