Despite 32 from Stewart and 17 from Charles, Las Vegas evens the best-of-five series at 1-1
LAS VEGAS – Breanna Stewart had another fantastic scoring game with 32 points while Tina Charles added 17 to go along with nine rebounds, but it was not enough for Seattle to pick up another road victory as Las Vegas evened the best-of-five WNBA Semifinals series with a 78-73 win in Game 2 on Wednesday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
Stewart tallied 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting, adding seven rebounds, three blocks and three assists. It was the eighth-straight playoff game Stewart scored 20+ points, matching Cappie Pondexter’s WNBA playoff record, and the fourth time she scored 30+ points in her 20 career playoff games. However, the loss snapped a 13-game playoff winning streak for the Storm with Stewart in the lineup. Seattle’s last playoff loss with Stewart came in Game 4 of the 2018 WNBA Semifinals at Phoenix.
The Seattle defense again shined, limiting Las Vegas to just 78 points, just the second time in 2022 the high-scoring Aces have been held below 80 in consecutive games. But the Storm offense struggled to find much scoring outside of Stewart and Charles, who combined for 49 of the team’s 73 points. While the team’s shot relatively evenly from the field, Las Vegas converted 18-of-23 from the free throw line while Seattle was just 11-of-11.
Jewell Loyd scored eight points with four assists and a pair of steals. Stephanie Talbot scored six points and added eight rebounds and three assists along with a steal and a block while Sue Bird recorded six points, six assists and four rebounds.
The teams went back and forth through the first part of the first quarter with Vegas going up 16-13 on a Plum layup at the 2:59 mark. But Stephanie Talbot connected on a three-pointer on the next trip down for Seattle, igniting a 10-0 Storm run to close out the quarter with Seattle up 23-16.
The Storm continued its run through the first two minutes of the second half, building a lead of as many as nine at 29-20 on a Stewart jumper at the 7:46 mark. The Aces answered right back, using an 11-2 run over the next 3:20, tying the game at 31-31 with 4:08 left in the period. Charles immediately answered the run with a three-pointer, but the teams still headed to the half tied at 36-36.
Seattle built a four-point lead early in the third quarter but the Aces used an 8-0 run over a two-minute span to take a 46-42 lead at the 5:26 mark. Still up four one minute later, the Storm got back-to-back three-pointers from Stewart and Talbot to go back up 50-48 with 4:03 to go in the period. But Vegas closed out the period on a 12-2 run to take a 60-52 lead to the fourth.
The Storm started strong in the fourth quarter. After a pair of Vegas free throws to open the quarter put the home side up 10, Seattle answered back with a 12-4 run of its own pulling to within two at 66-64 on a Bird jumper with 4:34 to go. The teams went back and forth with the Aces up six with 1:02 to play when Jewell Loyd made a pair of free throws followed by a Vegas turnover and Sue Bird jumper to make it 75-73 with :19.9 seconds left. But the Aces hit a pair of free throws and Seattle missed a three-point attempt on the other end as Vegas escaped with the win.
The series now heads back to Seattle for Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-five series with Game 3 tipping off at Noon PT on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Climate Pledge Arena.