Storm defense clamps down on Connecticut in 72-61 win

Seattle wins battle of the elite defenses, limiting Sun to its second-lowest point total over the last five seasons

SEATTLE – On a day that was all about year No. 25, the Seattle Storm picked up season win No. 10 – and got it against the team that is sitting at No. 1.

Jewell Loyd scored 16 points, Jordan Horston added 10 in her first start of the season, and all five starters tallied in double figures on Sunday afternoon in the win. The Storm used a 17-3 scoring run in the second quarter to climb back in and a 12-2 surge in the third to go ahead for good on the way to a 72-61 victory against the Connecticut Sun.

Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith tallied 13 points apiece for Seattle (10-6), which celebrated the team’s 25th year with video highlights, introductions of former players and coaches throughout the afternoon in Climate Pledge Arena, and the introduction of the fan-selected top 25 players during a post-game ceremony.

Ezi Magbegor had 11 points with a team-high nine rebounds. Diggins-Smith also dished eight assists.

Connecticut  (13-3) came in with the league’s best record. The Sun also had won the last six straight in the series. The Storm’s victory was their first against Connecticut since June 13, 2021.

Seattle kept the Sun 19 points below their 80.5 scoring average. The 61 points were their lowest total of the season and just the second time since 2019 the Sun had been held below 62.

“It gives us a bit of confidence. We didn’t get the one against Las Vegas (a 94-83 loss this past Wednesday), and we knew we had to bounce back today,” Magbegor said. “Connecticut is a great team; they’re No. 1 for a reason. It was a great match-up. I think we did a good job to sustain our energy defensively throughout the four quarters.”

The Storm was down by 11 points in the second quarter at 28-17. They finally found some energy, putting together a 13-0 scoring run to take a 30-28 lead. The Storm wound up scoring 17 of the final 20 points in the half to take a 34-31 lead into the break.

That advantage grew to 41-34 early in the third quarter before Connecticut ran off eight in a row for its final lead of the day at 42-41.

Tied at 44-44, the Storm rang up nine straight: a driving lay-in by Diggins-Smith, a lay-in by Ogwumike, a traditional three-point play by Horston, and another lay-in by Horston for a 53-44 lead.

The Sun came as close as four at 59-55 with 5:08 still to play. But Seattle put nine of the next 11 points on its side of the board, effectively clinching it with a 69-57 bulge and just 2:04 remaining.

Along with her 10 points, Horston’s first start of the year yielded seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals in 34-plus minutes of action. At the other end, she was primarily responsible for limiting DeWanna Bonner to just nine points – none in the first half. Bonner came in averaging a team-high 16.7 points per game.

“What you’re asking from Jordan was a match-up she could really focus on because she had those reps last year, and she really matches up well against DB,” Storm Head Coach Noelle Quinn said. “It wasn’t anything she hadn’t seen because she saw it last year. Her No. 1 role (today) was to be an elite defender. It’s confidence in the player, it’s preparation, it’s communication, it’s understanding the role.”

For her part, Horston is ready for more.

“Last year, I was like, ‘Wow – deer in the headlights,’” she said of starting. “Now, I feel like I can make a mark on this league. It’s my first start of the season, and it’s a big challenged with DeWanna – I took it personal. But it was just more like I was excited. They believe in me, and I’m doing what I need to do.”

BY THE NUMBERS

–After hitting just 4-of-18 (22.2%) during the first quarter, the Storm shot 50% the rest of the way (23-of-46), finishing the day at 42.2% (27-of-64).

–At the other end, Seattle limited the Sun to just 37.3 percent shooting (25 of 67). Connecticut hit its first six shots of the second quarter on the way to its 28-17 lead. But the Storm forced them into 1-of-13 shooting for the remainder of that period.

–For the eighth time this season, Seattle finished with 20-plus assists, racking up 23. Along with Diggins-Smith’s eight, Loyd earned five.

–Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones led the Sun with 14 points apiece. Thomas also grabbed 14 rebounds. DiJonai Carrington was limited to just two points, well below her average of 13.0.

UP NEXT

The second game of Seattle’s WNBA-record nine-game homestand is Thursday when Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever visit for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off. The Storm have won the first two games of this year’s four-game series, 85-83 at home on May 22, and 103-88 in Indianapolis on June 10.

After the game, the Storm held a ceremony honoring the 25th Anniversary team as voted on by the fans:

STORM TOP 25

(As voted on by Storm fans)

  1. Sue Bird
  2. Lauren Jackson
  3. Jewell Loyd
  4. Breanna Stewart
  5. Swin Cash
  6. Alysha Clark
  7. Ezi Magbegor
  8. Simone Edwards
  9. Tanisha Wright
  10. Natasha Howard
  11. Sami Whitcomb
  12. Tina Thompson
  13. Betty Lennox
  14. Noelle Quinn
  15. Camille Little
  16. Crystal Langhorne
  17. Tully Bevilaqua
  18. Gabby Williams
  19. Adia Barnes
  20. Jordin Canada
  21. Katie Smith
  22. Mercedes Russell
  23. Svetlana Abrosimova
  24. Epiphanny Prince
  25. Temeka Johnson

—— StormBasketball.com ——