Storm pull away late for 85-78 win at Washington

WASHINGTON – The role players were on a roll for the Seattle Storm.

Mercedes Russell and Ezi Magbegor scored 14 points apiece, and Katie Lou Samuelson added 10 on a combined 17-of-24 shooting from the field on Sunday, and the Storm closed the game on a 12-4 scoring run to fend off the Washington Mystics, 85-78.

Breanna Stewart logged her second straight double-double and her 12 of the season, this one with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

But on a day when shots weren’t falling so easily for the Big 3 of Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Sue Bird (they were 11 of 39 collectively), they were going in for just about everyone else (22 of 35 altogether) as Seattle (18-7) won its second straight after losing the first two contests on the current five-game road trip.

Russell drained 6 of 8 from the floor, both of her free throws, and pulled down eight rebounds. Magbegor was even hotter, hitting 7 of 8 and blocking three shots. Samuelson buried 4 of 8 and collected five rebounds.

However, it was the Olympic trio of Stewart, Bird and Loyd who sparked the game-ending run.

The Mystics (8-14) had just completed a 20-5 scoring burst to come from 68-54 down early in the fourth quarter to 74-73 up with 3:31 left, capped by a 3-pointer from Myisha Hines-Allen.

Coming out of a timeout, Russell was fouled on a shot and hit both free throws to put the Storm in front, 75-74, with 3:16 to go. Stephanie Talbot then stole the ball from Hines-Allen at the other end, got it ahead to Bird, and Bird drained a deep 3-pointer – her first one of the day – for a 78-74 lead at 2:55.

Stewart missed a jumper, but grabbed her own rebound and laid it back in to make it 80-74 with 2:27 remaining. A Hines-Allen lay-in cut it to 80-76, but Loyd answered with two free throws at 2:03.

On the next trip downcourt after a Mystics miss, Talbot’s 3-point try bounced off the rim. Russell grabbed the offensive rebound and got it out to Loyd. She drove toward the hoop, then floated a no-look pass to Talbot in the right corner, and Talbot swished a trey to make it 85-76 with 1:18 to go.

Elena Della Donne, playing for the first time in 22 months, cut it to 85-78 on a short jumper with 1:12 left. But those would be the last points for Washington, It had three more tries at the hoop, but one rolled off the rim, one fell short, and Stewart blocked the last one, securing the rebound, and the Storm ran out the clock.

The Mystics, trying to get into playoff position, were in command early, bolting to a 16-4 lead as the Storm hit just two of their first 11 shots – both short ones by Russell.

But once Seattle got going it kept going for the remainder of the first half. It closed the first quarter on a 14-5 run to get within 21-18. The Storm then rang up nine straight points early in the second quarter to go from 23-18 down to 27-23 ahead.

Tied at 31-31, Seattle closed the half with 12 of the final 14 points to take a 43-33 lead at the break. After that 2-of-11 start, the Storm went 16 of 25 the rest of the half.

A personal 7-0 scoring run by Stewart to close the third quarter kept the margin at 10 heading into the fourth, 64-54. It grew to 68-54 on a reverse lay-in by Jordin Canada and a fast break lay-in by Magbegor before the Mystics came charging back.

Loyd and Bird finished with eight points apiece. Loyd grabbed four rebounds; Bird had four boards, four assists, and two steals.

Tina Charles led the Mystics with 20 points, but the Seattle defense limited her to 8-of-20 shooting.

The Storm wraps up its five-game trip on Tuesday at Minnesota, tipping off at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time (ESPN2).