By Seth Dahle
Seattle turned a 15-point, second-half deficit into a one-point contest late, but the Storm ultimately suffered a 96-89 setback at the hands of Connecticut on Thursday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
With the setback, the Storm fell to 1-5 on the road and 6-8 overall, while the Sun snapped its two-game skid and evened its record at 7-7. Connecticut’s high-flying quick hits on offense helped the Sun prevail, as the home team went 10-for-22 from deep.
Collecting her fourth double-double of the season and 16th for her career, Breanna Stewart registered 22 points and 10 boards, while Jewell Loyd added 21 points, four boards and three dimes. Sue Bird added 16 points and five assists, and Crystal Langhorne booked 14 points and eight rebounds on 6-for-8 shooting.
After falling behind 7-0 a little over a minute into the contest, Seattle scored 12 of the next 17 to tie it at 12 apiece. Bird knocked down a trey to spark the run, and then Stewart converted the three-point play the old fashioned way. The Storm, however, never managed to take the lead in the first quarter, and much of that was due to the Sun’s aggressive outside shooting. Both Jasmine Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen combined for five three’s in the first 10 minutes of play, and Connecticut carried a 31-26 lead into the second stanza. Both teams shot over 62 percent in the first quarter in the past-paced affair, and Bird and Stewart combined to score 18 of Seattle’s 26 points.
Bird’s pull-up jumper on the right side tied the game at 31 apiece before Connecticut racked up six quick points to attain a 37-31 edge. Stewart swooshed Seattle’s fourth three of the game to stop the bleeding, and then Loyd scored twice in the paint to trim the margin to two (40-38). But while the Sun continued to make shots, the Storm went cold, missing its final 12 of the half on the way to entering the locker room facing a 48-38 deficit.
Thanks to the ‘big three’ of Bird, Stewart and Loyd, Seattle clawed its way back with an 18-10 run to cut the deficit to two (58-56) at the 4:54 mark of the third after the steal and layup by Bird. Connecticut, however, got things going in transition, as Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas teamed up for 11 points amidst a 12-0 run to make it 70-56 Sun.
Despite getting seven early fourth-quarter points from Loyd, Connecticut refused to miss, nailing three early triples on the way to building a 15-point (83-68) lead, and it looked as if the Sun was going to run away with it.
That’s when Seattle started to chip away, as Sami Whitcomb and Bird hit treys to spark a 10-0 run to slice the margin to five (83-78). Layups by Stewart and Langhorne capped the burst, and another triple by Whitcomb ultimately bridged the gap to two (85-83). Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas scored inside for the answer, and then Loyd and Langhorne netted buckets to keep the Storm within striking distance.
Stricklen’s pull-up on the baseline made it 92-89 Sun, and Seattle called a timeout on its next possession with 1:01 left. Loyd lost her dribble to result in a turnover, and Jasmine Thomas responded with a take to the rim on Connecticut’s next play to make it a two-possession game. The Storm came up empty on its next shot to make things interesting, and the Sun ultimately prevailed in front of an electric home crowd.
Jasmine Thomas posted a career-high 29 points on 12-for-16 shooting, while Alyssa Thomas recorded 17 points and nine dimes. Jonquel Jones secured a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Seattle caps its three-game road swing with Dallas on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT. Fans can secure the best seats in the house with Storm 360 Memberships, available now, starting at $180, available online or by calling (206) 217-WNBA (9622). Packages and group discounts are available at 206-217-WNBA (9622).