Storm defense stands strong in 72-61 win at Los Angeles

Loyd scores 25 and Whitcomb adds 14 to pace Seattle to key road victory

LOS ANGELES – Jewell Loyd’s offense – and the timeliness of it – was just part of the story on Thursday night.  The Seattle Storm’s defensive effort was an even bigger part.

Loyd scored 25 points, moving into No. 2 on the WNBA’s all-time single-season scoring list, and Storm ended the game on a 15-5 scoring run to defeat the Los Angeles Sparks, 72-61.

Seattle (10-25) had one of its best defensive efforts of the season. The 61 points by Los Angeles (15-21) was the fewest by a Storm opponent this year (Indiana scored just 62 on July 30). The Sparks, in tying their lowest point output of the summer, shot just 30.3 percent from the field (20 of 66). The previous low by a Seattle opponent this season was 31.5 percent (23 of 73) by Atlanta on Aug. 10.

Loyd scored 18 of her points during the second half, with 13 of those during the fourth quarter. The game-clinching 15-5 run featured 11 points from Loyd, who now has 824 for the season.

Loyd started the night with 799 points and was in No. 5 on the league’s single-season list. She is now just 36 away from Diana Taurasi’s single-season mark of 860, set in 2006.

But she’s not the only one chasing that mark. Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson, who wasn’t even in the top five coming into Thursday’s schedule, is now No. 4 with 816 after pouring in 26 to help the Aces beat Washington, 84-75. And, while New York’s Breanna Stewart had the night off, she’s currently in the No. 5 spot with 805.

The Storm has four games left, Vegas has three, and the Liberty have five.

Along the way on Thursday, Loyd climbed past Stewart’s total, then moved ahead of Maya Moore’s 812 points from her 2014 season with Minnesota, then eclipsed Taurasi’s 820 points from 2008.

Sami Whitcomb added 14 points for Seattle, getting all of those during the first half.

Down 4-1 in the opening moments, the Storm ran off six points in a row for a 7-4 edge – and never trailed again. They were up by as many as 12 during the first half, and stretched it to 13 late in the third quarter at 52-39.

But the Sparks, who kept climbing back in all night, had one more rally in them. From the 1:26 mark of the third quarter until 5:32 remained in the fourth, Los Angeles went on a 17-5 scoring tear, finally coming within 57-56 on a 3-pointer from the right of the lane by Rae Burrell.

Loyd then put Seattle’s next nine points on the board: A pair of free throws and then a traditional three-point play made it 62-56. After Nneka Ogwumike buried a 3-pointer to make it 62-59 with 4:33 to go.

The Storm then caught a break. With the shot clock running down, the ball was knocked away from Mercedes Russell. She, Whitcomb, and L.A.’s Karlie Samuelson scrambled for it, and a jump ball was called with 3:39 showing. At that point, Seattle’s shot clock was showing just one second, meaning that even if Russell won the jump, it likely wouldn’t leave enough time for someone to get off a shot.

But it was ruled that Samuelson had come up with a steal. The possession change reset the shot clock, and it now showed 22 when she and Russell went up for the jump, still in the Storm’s front court. Russell won the jump, giving possession back to Seattle with a fresh shot clock, and Loyd ultimately drove toward the hoop from the left side, scooping a 12-footer that banked ff the board and in for a 64-59 lead at 3:28.

Loyd then hit a pair of free throws at 2:47 for a three-possession margin at 66-59. Kia Nurse hit one of two free throws for 67-59 with 1:23 remaining. Nurse then effectively iced it at 1:06 when Ezi Magbegor rebounded a missed shot by Whitcomb, passed it out to Nurse who was 24 feet straight away and daggered in a 3-pointer for a 70-59 bulge.

Nneka Ogwumike led L.A. with 11 points, below her 19.3 ppg average, and well under the 27 and 22 points she scored against the Storm in the first two meetings between the two.


Loyd’s three-rung ascension up the single-season scoring ladder wasn’t the Storm’s only standout statistical moment.

She also had seven rebounds, including her 1,000th. Loyd now has 1,002 for her career. Her 1,000th came when she got a hand on Zia Cooke’s attempted 3-pointer with 4:48 to go. Loyd secured the ball, getting credit for both the block and the rebound.

Her assist to Magbegor with 6:13 left in the first quarter for a 7-4 lead was the 900th of her career.

Loyd also had the assist on Whitcomb’s 3-pointer from the left side with 2:02 left in the second quarter, and that made Whitcomb the 15th player to score 1,000 points with the Storm.

Magbegor pulled down eight rebounds, giving her 293 for the season. She moved past Breanna Stewart’s 2017 total of 287 and into No. 5 single-season total on the Seattle list. At No. 4 is Lauren Jackson’s 300 boards in 2007. The all-time single-season total is Stewart’s 317 in 2016.

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