Storm uses big second half to beat Sky, 84-71

Ogwumike leads the way with 24 points and 13 rebounds as Seattle outscores Chicago 53-32 in the second half

SEATTLE – All those shots that weren’t falling during the first half for the Seattle Storm…

…definitely were falling during the second half.

Nneka Ogwumike and Ezi Magbegor both had double-doubles – 24 points plus 13 rebounds for Ogwumike; 13 points plus 13 rebounds for Magbegor – and the Storm shot 54 percent through the final two quarters, finishing the game on a 12-2 run to beat the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon, 84-71.

That outcome in Climate Pledge Arena gave the Storm a split of the two-game set against Chicago (8-12) after the Sky won on Friday night, 88-84.

Jewell Loyd pumped in 20 points, getting 12 of those during the third quarter after scoring just two during the first half. Skylar Diggins-Smith added 15, including the 4,500th of her career, and dished out eight of Seattle’s 24 assists.

The Storm came out frosty, missing their first six shots and hitting just 4 of 19 (21 percent) during the first quarter. After a 4-of-5 hot streak to start the second quarter gave them their first lead of the day at 23-22, they drained just two of their final 10 and went into halftime down by eight at 39-31.

“They were all good shots,” Loyd said. “We didn’t feel like we were taking bad shots. They were just long or in and out. We knew shots were going to drop. We just had to make sure we were making the same effort and just keep at it.

That all changed during the third quarter. Seattle shot a stratospheric 64.7 percent (11 of 17) and put together a 24-5 scoring run. That included 10-0 to turn a 42-37 deficit into a 47-42 lead and 8-0 to go from up just three at 47-44 to up 11 at 55-44.

“There was a particular timeout where Jewell said, ‘Hey, we just gotta hoop  At the end of the day, they’re hooping, and we just gotta hoop,’” Ogwumike said. “We’ve got to respond and step it up a level. That’s really helpful in those kind of grind-it-out moments to realize that. And of course, you have to have that manifest in how you play.”

Added Loyd, “I came in and just told them to play basketball. Stop trying to figure out what they were doing. We’ve been playing basketball since we were little, so just go back to basics. That kind of calmed all of us down. We got some lay-ups to go, got a couple and-ones and the momentum shifted and the crowd was getting louder.”

A 4-of-6 start at the outset of the fourth quarter helped expand a still-tenuous 60-53 advantage to 69-55 on back-to-back baskets by Ogwumike, a turnaround 3-pointer from the left of the lane by Loyd, and a jumper from the foul line by Diggins-Smith, forcing Chicago to call timeout with 7:10 remaining.

From there, the Sky seized the momentum. Through the next 4:21, they outscored Seattle by a 14-3 margin. Just like that, it was a one-possession game at 72-69 with 2:49 still showing.

The Storm then put the next 12 straight point on their side of the board: two free throws by Jordan Horston, a Magbegor lay-in off a Horston assist, a free throw and then a 25-foot trey by Diggins-Smith, two free throws by Ogwumike, and a final lay-in by Loyd off a pass from Ogwumike.

Chicago didn’t score again until just 20.7 seconds remained, by which time the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Seattle hit 19 of 35 through the final 20 minutes, and wound up at 42 percent for the day at 29 of 69.

The Storm did a much more solid job defensively against Chennedy Carter and Angel Reese. In Friday’s game, they teamed up for 60 points (33 for Carter, as career-high 27 for Reese) on 62 percent shooting (23 of 37).

On Sunday, they combined for 38 (21 for Carter, 17 for Reese) on combined 40.5 percent accuracy (15 of 37).

“It was just crowding the space and being a little more award and realizing how versatile a scorer (Carter) is,” Loyd said, “just being a little more aggressive from the start – not pressure-wise, but spacing, and closing the gaps a little bit. Jordan does a great job and that starts it off. It’s a group effort. It’s hard to stop a lot of good scorers in this league by yourself. It’s a team effort.”


— Diggins-Smith’s 4,500th point came on a fast-break lay-in with 6:58 left in the third quarter, lifting the Storm into a 42-42 tie. She is the 34th player in league history to reach that milestone.

— The 24 assists marked Seattle’s seventh straight game and ninth in the last 10 with 20-plus. That makes it 13 such games this season, with a record of 11-2 in those contests.

— The Storm committed just 10 turnovers, making it 14 games in a row with 15 or fewer.

–Magbegor, who had a career-high eight blocked shots in Friday’s game against Chicago, had four more on Sunday. In the three-game season series, she had 17 blocks.

— Magbegor’s double-double was her sixth of the season. Ogwumike’s double-double was her fifth.

— Reese’s double-double was her 13th straight and 14th overall.

— Seattle had four second-half scoring runs totaling 37-0: two in the third quarter (10-0 and 8-0) and two more in the fourth (7-0 and 12-0).


The Storm hosts their annual Camp Day game on Wednesday at noon when the Las Vegas Aces make their first visit of the year. Tip-off is at noon. The teams have split a pair in Nevada: 78-65 for Seattle on June 7, and 94-83 for Las Vegas on June 19.

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