Loyd Hits Go-Ahead Free Throws in Final Seconds; Storm Improves to 4-6
INDIANAPOLIS – Jewell Loyd scored 16 points in the second half, including the go-ahead free throws with 2.4 seconds remaining, to guide the Seattle Storm to a 90-88 win over the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.
The Storm was ahead for the entire game until the final minute, and it held a commanding 82-71 lead with three minutes to play. But the Fever came all the way back from what was once a 17-point deficit, and Tiffany Mitchell made a layup with 31 seconds on the clock to give Indiana its first lead of the night.
Loyd, who finished with a team-high 20 points, responded with a midrange jump shot just eight seconds later to put the Storm in front 88-87. She then committed a foul on the other end, and Indiana’s Shenise Johnson split a pair of free throws to tie the game with eight seconds remaining. Loyd was fouled while attempting a shot from the right baseline on the ensuing fast break, and she drained both free throws to put Seattle ahead 90-88. The Fever wasn’t able to get another shot off, and the Storm earned its second road victory of the season.
After scoring a combined 12 points on 3-16 shooting in her previous two outings, Loyd recorded her fifth 20-point game of the season on Sunday. Storm forward Crystal Langhorne had 17 points, one shy of her season high, and Sue Bird finished with 16. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, playing her final home game against the Storm before she retires after the season, notched 19 points in the second half on her way to a game-high 27.
Seattle’s victory snapped a five-game losing streak against Indiana, which hadn’t lost to the Storm at home since 2008. The two teams are now tied at sixth in the WNBA standings with 4-6 records.
After scoring a season-high 24 points on Friday at Connecticut, Bird started hot again in the first quarter Sunday night, connecting on her first four shots and finishing the period with 10 points. Seattle jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the opening minutes and would increase its edge to 17 by the end of the period after knocking down four three-pointers and forcing Indiana into eight first-quarter turnovers.
Seattle led by just six at halftime, as the Fever outscored the Storm 24-13 in the second quarter. Indiana was aided by the foul trouble of Storm forward Alysha Clark, who went to the bench midway through the period with three personal fouls after scoring seven points in the first quarter. The Fever trimmed Seattle’s lead to as little as two points before trailing by six at the break.
Bird guided the Storm to a strong start in the second half, as Seattle would push its lead back to double digits and take a 66-54 edge into the fourth quarter. Loyd also scored eight of her 20 points in the third period.
Reserve Jenna O’Hea hit a pair of three-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Storm hold off a furious comeback by the Fever. O’Hea finished with 10 points, and the Storm got further contributions off the bench in six points by Ramu Tokashiki and five from Monica Wright.
The Storm held Mitchell, Indiana’s leading scorer, to just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting. It was just the second time this year that Mitchell has failed to reach double figures.
The Storm continues its road trip on Tuesday against the San Antonio Stars. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT.