Stewart, Charles, and Loyd help Seattle hold off late run by Washington to clinch season series
WASHINGTON D.C. — Seattle built a fourth quarter lead, then fought to hold off a late charge by Washington, ultimately securing a key 82-77 win on Saturday afternoon in a battle between two teams who entered the game tied for fourth in the WNBA standings.
The victory snaps a three-game road losing streak by the Storm (19-11) and gives Seattle the season series over the Mystics (18-12) with one game still to play tomorrow. The win also clinched a playoff berth for the Storm—its seventh-straight playoff appearance, 17th over the last 19 years and 18th overall. The 18 overall playoff appearances in 23 seasons are the second most among active franchises, trailing just the Los Angeles Sparks, who have 20 in 26 years in the league.
Breanna Stewart led the way with 18 points including four off free throws over the final 11 seconds of the game to seal the win. Jewell Loyd seemed unstoppable down the stretch, scoring seven of her 17 points in the fourth quarter including three acrobatic shots to keep Seattle in the game during the Mystics final push. Tina Charles, who will make her first playoff appearance since the 2017 season, tallied 16 points and narrowly missed her fourth-straight double-double, finishing with nine rebounds to go along with a pair of assists.
After a hard-fought first quarter, Washington came out firing in the second, building a nine-point lead at 28-19 two minutes into the period. Seattle rallied later in the quarter with a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 33-32 on an Ezi Magbegor cutting layup with 2:25 to go before the half. The two teams would match each other rest of the way and the game would head to halftime tied at 35-35.
In the third, neither team held a lead of more than four as they battled back and forth with a pair of Mystics free throws putting the home side up 55-54 at the 1:12 mark.
But Seattle took off at that point with Stephanie Talbot tying up the game on a free throw which started a 16-0 Storm run over the next 4:32 of the game, putting Seattle up 70-55 on a Talbot three-pointer with 6:28 to play. Seattle still held a 13-point lead with 4:18 to play as Loyd hit an off-balance, corner three to make it 73-60 when the Mystics started their furious finish. Washington would score on its next seven possessions, rattling off a 17-5 run capped by a three-pointer by former Storm guard Alysha Clark which made it a one-point game at 78-77 with 26.3 seconds to play.
A strange situation where Seattle was charged with a timeout despite no one calling for it forced the Storm to take the ball out at midcourt with 22.8 seconds left. That was followed by Loyd missing the inbounds pass after appearing to be held up by a Mystics player before the ball was thrown in, handing the ball back to Washington. But the Seattle defense held strong, forcing a miss on a layup attempt by Elena Delle Donne with 11.8 seconds to play, then—after a pair of free throws by Stewart—followed by with another stop as Ariel Atkins deep three-pointer rattled off with four seconds remaining.
The win gives Seattle a much-needed tiebreaker over Washington as the Storm secures the season series by winning the first two of three games between the two this year. Seattle and Washington entered the game tied for fourth in the WNBA standings. With the new WNBA playoff format awarding home court advantage to the top four playoff teams, the victory went a long way in securing home court for the Storm with six games remaining.
The two teams get a short break before returning to the court tomorrow, squaring off again on Sunday at Noon PT (3:00 p.m. ET).