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Seattle Storm pick up 2nd signature road win in 90-88 victory over the Indiana Fever

After losing by one point on Friday against Connecticut, Seattle was able to pick up an important road victory in Indiana on Sunday.

Sue Bird and Briann January battle down the stretch
Sue Bird and Briann January battle down the stretch
Fever Photography

The best way a young team can rebound from a heart breaking last-second loss is to go out and pick up an unexpected road victory in their very next game.  The Seattle Storm did just that as they were able to hang on and defeat the Indiana Fever 90-88, in front of nearly 7,000 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana.

This was an extremely important road win for the Storm for a couple reasons.  First, they had just blown a game they should have won against Connecticut and they were on the verge of blowing this game against Indiana.  A game they were leading by 17 points in the first quarter (29-12).  But they managed to execute and defend down the stretch and come up with a two point victory.  It is critical for a young team to be able to take a team's best shot and still hang on to pick up the victory, especially on the road. 

The second important factor, the Storm only had two road victories all season long last year (both against the Los Angeles Sparks).  This year they have already picked up two key road victories against the Phoenix Mercury and now the Indiana Fever.  Seattle is 2-3 on the road so far this season, and they're an Alyssa Thomas put-back away from being 3-2.  That was a huge reason Seattle was unable to make the playoffs last season.  They were 8-9 at home, but just 2-15 on the road.  If the team wants to make the playoffs this year, they're going to need to pick up a lot more road wins.  And as of right now, they seem to be trending towards that.

This was a game of runs by both teams.  Seattle came out to a huge start, taking a quick 6-0 lead to begin the game and ending the first quarter up 29-12.  However, the Indiana Fever would battle back, as Seattle's offense went cold.  Indiana out-scored Seattle 24-13 in the 2nd quarter, to cut Seattle's half-time lead to 42-36.  Seattle would have another strong quarter in the third period.  Which was good to see, because that has been a quarter they have struggled with in multiple games this season.  But in this game, Seattle was able to out-score the Fever 24-18 in the third quarter.  Seattle would see their 12 point fourth quarter lead disappear as Indiana would go on a tear in this 4th period.  Seattle was still up double-digits, 82-71 with 3:33 left in the game, when Indiana went on an 11-2 run to cut Seattle's lead to 84-82.  Indiana would even take a one point lead (their first of the game) at 87-86 with 31 seconds left in the game via a Tiffany Mitchell layup.  However, Jewell Loyd was aggressive and attacked on the next possession with a pull up jump shot near the foul-line, that she nailed to put Seattle back up again 88-87.  The Fever would draw a foul with just under nine seconds to play, but they were only able to convert on one of two free throws to tie the game up at 88-88.  Loyd got the ball, raced down the court and was able to draw the foul with just 2.4 seconds left in the game.  Jewell nailed both free throws and Seattle was able to hang on for the 90-88 victory.

Once again, a very common theme we're seeing this season is when Jewell Loyd scores above 15 points, the Storm are 4-1.  Loyd had 20 points on 5-12 shooting.  And even more impressive was she was able to draw a lot of contact and get to the line.  Loyd was 9-9 from the FT line. 

Other players that scored in double-figures for the Storm were: Crystal Langhorne, Sue Bird, and Jenna O'Hea.  It was really good to see Langhorne have another great game, after playing one of her better games this season against Connecticut on Friday.  Langhorne has often been a player in Seattle that will have a fantastic game (15-20 points) one game and then score just 3-5 points in the next game.  So it was really good to see Seattle's other primary veteran player (besides Sue Bird) put together multiple strong games in a row.  Langhorne finished with 17 points on a very efficient 4-6 from the floor; she also shot 9-11 from the foul line, including some critical free throws down the stretch.

Jenna O'Hea pitched in 10 points off the bench, including two clutch three pointers in the 4th quarter.  Right now O'Hea is outperforming Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and is definitely getting minutes over KML.  Mosqueda-Lewis had a decent game on Friday with 7 points off the bench.  However, she did not play at all in Sunday's game against the Fever.

Sue Bird continues to play well, especially with her scoring.  Following up her 24 point performance on Friday, Bird dropped 16 points on the Indiana Fever on Sunday.  Funny enough, Bird actually led the team in rebounding with six boards.  She also contributed four assists.  Unfortunately, she also had a season-high seven turnovers in this game.  The worst part however, came in the fourth quarter when Bird got tangled up with other players and twisted her ankle badly.  It was so bad she attempted to move and collapsed back to the floor and had to crawl off the court.  That's a nightmare scene for any Seattle Storm fan, as Bird is still the face of the franchise and she is also having one the best seasons of her career at the age of 35.  It'll be very interesting to see if this ankle injury keeps her out of any games.  She was able to come back and play, but she's looked to be in pain and did not have full mobility after she returned.

The Indiana Fever were led tonight by 10 time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings, who had 27 points and six rebounds.  Briann January, coming off surgery last season, contributed 15 points and Shenise Johnson added 13.  Tiffany Mitchell who has been leading the Indiana Fever in scoring this season, and is giving Breanna Steawart a run for her money in the Rookie of the Year competition, did not have her best game.  The Storm defense limited Mitchell to just 9 points on just 2-9 shooting.

Key Notes from the Game:

*The Storm win 80% of their games when Jewell Loyd scores over 15 points.
*Today's game was the first in Breanna Stewart's career where she didn't get double-digits in either points or rebounds.
*Seattle gave up 15 offensive rebounds to the Fever and only collected 4 themselves.
*Markeisha Gatling did not play for a second-consecutive game.

What's Next?
Seattle continues their long road trip as they head to Texas for two games in the Lone Star state.  First up, is the 1-7 San Antonio Stars on Tuesday 06/14.