Storm Remains Ahead of Phoenix in Seventh Playoff Spot; Seattle’s Record Stands at 15-18
PHOENIX – In the final road contest of its 2016 regular season, the Seattle Storm fell 86-62 to the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Storm’s four-game winning streak was snapped, and with the loss, Seattle now knows it couldn’t host a playoff game until the Semifinals.
Having already secured its postseason berth, Seattle remains in the seventh spot with one game remaining. The Storm (15-18) holds the edge over Phoenix (15-18) due to its two head-to-head wins earlier this season. Phoenix became the eighth and final team to reach the playoffs when Washington lost earlier on Thursday.
Rookie forward Breanna Stewart paced the Storm with team highs of 14 points and nine rebounds, and frontcourt partner Crystal Langhorne finished with 10 points and eight boards. Second-year guard Jewell Loyd added 11 for the Storm, which shot just 35.0 percent from the field compared to 47.8 percent for the Mercury. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 11 points off the bench, hitting a trio of three-pointers.
Brittney Griner scored a game-high 21 points for Phoenix, while Diana Taurasi poured in 15 and Candice Dupree added 14.
After a slow start, Phoenix scored 12 unanswered points to build a commanding lead early in the first quarter, including a trio of jumpers from Penny Taylor. Stewart stopped the run with a pair of free throws that cut it to 12-6 midway through the frame. But after Mosqueda-Lewis knocked down her second three-pointer, the Mercury went on another huge run, notching 12 straight points to push its lead to 28-12.
Mosqueda-Lewis hit another outside jumper early in the second, but the Mercury would only increase its edge as the rest of the Storm struggled from the field. The lead was up to 20 points with four minutes to go in the half, and Seattle faced a 50-29 deficit at halftime.
Stewart hit a pair of jumpers in the opening minutes of the second half to help Seattle cut into the lead, and the Storm would go on to outscore Phoenix 21-17 in the third quarter. The deficit was trimmed to as little as 15, as Loyd scored a pair of buckets late in the frame to keep Seattle within striking distance.
After Phoenix was ahead 67-50 heading into the fourth, Dupree and Taurasi were the catalysts down the stretch, helping the Mercury put the game out of reach.
Seattle will host the Chicago Sky in the final regular-season game on Sunday at 4 p.m. PT.