Loyd’s 26 Not Enough to Down Dream

Jewell Loyd tallies 26 points, but Storm fall to Dream 79-68

ATLANTA – Jewell Loyd kept climbing the scoring ladder. The Seattle Storm, however, couldn’t quite climb all the way back into Wednesday night’s game against the Atlanta Dream.

Loyd scored 26 points, moving past Diana Taurasi into No. 2 on the WNBA’s all-time single-season scoring list, but the Dream closed the first half on a 14-4 run and maintained at least a three-possession lead for most of the second half inside Gateway Center Arena to beat the Storm, 79-68.

Loyd’s total put her at 878 points for the season, pushing past the 860 scored by Phoenix’ Taurasi in 2006. The only one ahead of Loyd now is New York’s Breanna Stewart, who took the No. 1 spot on Tuesday with a 40-point performance against Dallas. She has 885.

Both Loyd and Stewart have two games left in the regular season. Also in the picture is Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson, who has 846 with two games left.

Loyd eclipsed Taurasi’s 860 on a putback lay-in with 4:21 left in the first half. Ezi Magbegor had missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, but Loyd was all alone under the hoop to grab the rebound and put it back in for her 861st point.

Sami Whitcomb added 13 points, and Magbegor had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Storm (11-27). Whitcomb’s total included nine from 3-poiint range on 3-of-6 shooting, her 29th straight game with at least one trey and her 14th with three or more.

Seattle had a 36-33 lead with 3:39 left in the second quarter when Atlanta started a 14-4 surge to close the half, and took a 47-40 lead into the break. The Dream hit as many shots during the second quarter (12 of 20) as the Storm hit during the entire first half (12 of 33).

Seattle had been in front for most of the first half, up by as many as seven at 20-13 after a 7-0 scoring burst.

Loyd put the Storm on the board to start the second half, making it 47-42. But the Dream (18-20) ran off the next seven points, making it 54-42. The margin was 13 entering the fourth quarter at 65-52. Seattle got within nine on three occasions, and a pair of Loyd free throws made it 69-62 with 6:04 still remaining.

Atlanta effectively clinched it with an 8-1 scoring run for a 77-63 advantage with just 2:09 to go.

The Dream had a decisive margin in the paint, outscoring Seattle, 44-22. Atlanta hit 22 of 38 from close range; the Storm were just 11 of 25.

Allisha Gray tallied 18 points, and Monique Billings had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Dream, who clinched a playoff spot with the win.

Loyd’s 26-point night included 9 of 10 at the free throw line. She bumped her streak of consecutive makes up to 41 before one bounced off the right side of the rim late in the second quarter..

Magbegor’s eight boards put her art 305 for the year, now No. 4 on Seattle’s all-time single-season list. Lauren Jackson had been No. 4 with 300 in 2007, and also occupies the No. 3 slot with 307, that coming in 2003. The team record is 317 by Stewart in 2016.