Seattle rolls past Phoenix 80-62 in Storm’s first 2024 Commissioner’s Cup game

Ezi Magbegor has banner game with 21 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals

SEATTLE – Ezi Magbegor is going to be sticking around with the Seattle Storm.

On Tuesday night, she showed once again why that’s the epitome of a perfect fit.

Magbegor, fresh off signing a contract extension with the team on Tuesday afternoon, poured in 21 points – with 13 of those during the first quarter – grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots as the Storm put their fifth straight win into the book, defeating the Phoenix Mercury in Climate Pledge Arena, 80-62.

Skylar Diggins-Smith added 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. Jewell Loyd chipped in 15 along with seven rebounds and six assists, and Victoria Vivians logged her first double-digit game with the Storm, finishing with 10.

The Storm got the job done on Tuesday without the services of leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Nneka Ogwumike (18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds). She sat out after being inadvertently poked in the eye during practice on Monday.

In extending its winning streak, Seattle (6-3) won the first of its five games in the Commissioner’s Cup competition. The next four – Friday at Las Vegas, Sunday at Minnesota, next Tuesday at home against Los Angeles, and next Thursday at Dallas – all count in the Cup standings, as each team plays five: one against each conference opponent.

The top teams from the Western and Eastern Conferences play for the Cup on Tuesday, June 25, on the home court of the team with the better record in all games at the end of Commissioner’s Cup games.

Australian native Magbegor, still just 24 years old and in her fifth year in Seattle, had more points by herself during the first quarter (13) than the Mercury had collectively (12). She went 6 of 6 from the floor, including one make from 3-point range. For the game, she hit 9 of 13 (69.2 percent), her second-best shooting night of the season. Her three blocked shots made it 10 straight games, dating back to last season’s finale, with two or more.

“When the ball moves, that’s how we get our shots offensively, and it opens up shots for everyone on the floor,” Magbegor said. “It doesn’t matter who’s scoring. But when we flow, we look really good.”

Added head coach Noelle Quinn, “I thought she was very aggressive, and I thought her pace was good. A lot of Ezi – defensive anchor and her agility and her aggressiveness – jump-starts what we do on offense. When we’re playing in transition and playing in space, she’s really good … There’s an energy level to her that we really fed off of.”

Down 4-2 in the opening moments of the game, the Storm put 12 straight points on the board for a 14-4 advantage. They extended it to 25-12 by the end of the quarter, and the closest Phoenix (4-6) got after that was nine at 27-18 early in the second. Seattle put up the next 11 points and stayed in front by double digits the rest of the way.

A 10-2 Mercury run during the third quarter helped them get back within striking distance at 57-43 –after they had gone nearly five minutes without a point to start that period. But Seattle responded with a 7-0 spurt to take a 64-43 lead into the fourth.

The Storm went nearly five scoreless minutes at the outset of the last quarter, and Phoenix got back within 16 at 64-48. Loyd then got off a 23-footer from the right of the lane that was in midair as the shot clock buzzer sounded. It swished through, making it 67-48.

“It was a good game in the first half, but we can do better with finishing quarters,” Diggins-Smith said. “In the fourth quarter, we started with a struggle, but we held them. With no Nneka, we saw people stepping up and stepping into different roles. It was a great game for us to start out Commissioner’s Cup, holding them under 20 for three quarters (12 in the first, 10 in the third, 19 in the fourth).”


— The Storm had a 42-33 rebounding advantage. But that wasn’t the whole story. They allowed Phoenix just three offensive rebounds – none in the second or third quarters, one in the first and two in the fourth. The Mercury had just five second-chance points. Seattle had eight offensive boards for 12 second-chance points.

— Led by Loyd’s six, Seattle dealt another 20 assists, the fourth time in the past five games with 20-plus.

— Kahleah Copper led Phoenix with 19 points. Diana Taurasi, coming off a 31-point performance against Los Angeles on Sunday (making her, at age 41, the oldest player in WNBA / NBA history with a game of 30-plus), finished with just seven on 3-of-12 shooting. Under the defensive pressure of Seattle’s Victoria Vivians, she went 0-for-6 from 3-point range after hitting 7 of 9 on Sunday. Taurasi came into the game with a league-leading 31 treys.

–The Storm hit 40.6 percent (28 of 69). They limited Phoenix to 33.8 percent (23 of 68) and just 17.4 percent (4 of 23) from downtown.

— Loyd is now 20 points away from 5,000 for her career.


The Storm visits two-time defending champion Las Vegas on Friday. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. (ION TV).

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