Storm stays undefeated on the road with 89-66 win over Connecticut

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – It was quite a homecoming for the Seattle Storm’s UConn connection.

Former Huskies stars Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Katie Lou Samuelson combined for 43 points – a game-high 22 for Stewart, 13 for Bird, and eight for Samuelson – as the Storm rolled past the Connecticut Sun on Sunday in Mohegan Sun Arena, 89-66.

Stewart also pulled down nine rebounds for Seattle (10-2), and Bird connected from 3-point range for the 906th time of her 20-year career, tying her with Katie Smith for the second-most makes in league history.

The highly-anticipated showdown between the top two teams in the WNBA was in the Storm’s hands almost the entire afternoon – far different from May 25 in Everett when the Seattle prevailed in overtime, 90-87. The Storm started Sunday’s contest at 9-2 and was undefeated on the road at 4-0. Connecticut, coming in off a week’s rest while the Storm were playing for the third time in five days, was 8-2, with a 5-0 home record.

But after DeWanna Bonner’s turnaround 5-foot bank shot gave the Sun the initial lead at 2-0, Seattle ran off eight straight points and led the rest of the way.

A 12-4 scoring surge helped the Storm extend an 8-7 lead to 20-11. They finished the first quarter up 25-16, the eighth time in 12 games they’ve tallied at least 25 points in the opening period.

Another nine straight points during a 3½-minute stretch midway through the second quarter helped Seattle take a 38-22 lead. It never dipped below double digits the rest of the way, as Connecticut came no closer than 14. The last time was a 64-50 early in the fourth, but the Storm essentially put the game out of reach by scoring the next seven points.

The Sun, already missing star center Jonquel Jones (21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds), who is playing for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the EuroBasket tournament, were shut down even more by one of the Storm’s best defensive efforts of the year. Connecticut’s 66 points and 60 field goal attempts were the fewest allowed by Seattle this season.

Making the blowout victory even more noteworthy for the Storm was that they did it despite getting just seven points from Jewell Loyd, who came in averaging 20.4 and had a streak of 18 consecutive double-digit scoring games. But scoring contributions came from elsewhere, as all 12 players saw action and all 12 scored, with 34 of the 89 points from off the bench.

Among those were four from rookie guard Kiana Williams, who got all of them on a four-point play late in the game. Williams buried a 3-pointer from the right of the lane with 3:18 left, was fouled, and hit the ensuing free throw.

Bonner and Kaila Charles finished with 14 points each for Connecticut, Charles getting all of hers off the bench during the fourth quarter.

With three straight victories to start the five-game road trip, the Storm head to Indiana for a pair of games. The first of those is Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time (Joe TV).