On Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Storm hosted the defending champion Minnesota Lynx. And even though the Lynx have won 3 out of the past 5 WNBA Championships, they have never played better than they are right now. The Lynx have set a new WNBA League record, starting the 2016 season 11-0. And after their victory against Seattle on Sunday, the Lynx extend their all-time record to now 12-0. But it wasn't an easy victory for the Lynx.
Seattle came out very strong in the first quarter. The Storm got out to a big lead early on the hot shooting of Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird. Bird had eight points early including back-to-back 3-point baskets to put Seattle up 16-8 with 5:51 left in the 1st quarter. Seattle would take its largest lead of the ball-game, 22-12, with 2:54 left in the first period on an Alysha Clark layup. For a moment, it really did look like Seattle was going to be the team that was going to finally beat the unstoppable Minnesota Lynx. But it wasn't meant to be. The Lynx would end the first quarter on an 11-4 run, to cut Seattle's lead to 26-23.
The Lynx would continue to roll in the 2nd quarter. They really got their offense going and would outscore Seattle by ten in the 2nd period, with a 30-20 advantage. Maya Moore started getting very hot and would score eleven points in the 2nd quarter. Minnesota would take a 53-46 lead at half-time.
The Storm actually came out very strong after half-time. It was very similar to how they started the first quarter where they built their 10 point lead. This time, Seattle would start the 3rd quarter on a 9-2 run to tie the game up at 55-55 in the first 90 seconds of the 3rd period. Unfortunately, Minnesota would turn up the defensive intensity and go on a huge 22-8 run to end the quarter. This put the Lynx up 77-63 heading into the fourth and final period.
The Lynx would go up by as much as 21 points in the 4th quarter, 84-63 on a Maya Moore pull-up jump shot. Seattle would rally and cut the lead down to twelve, but they were never able to bring the deficit down to single digits.
Seattle's starters played very well; arguably even better than Minnesota's. But it was the impressive depth of Minnesota that allowed them to win this game. Janel McCarville came in late in the first quarter and helped Minnesota cut Seattle's lead down. She hit multiple open jump shots in this game, including a 3-pointer. She ended the game with 9 points and 6 rebounds. Natasha Howard added 16 points off the bench including a very impressive 7-7 shooting from the floor. Former, Seattle Storm player Renee Montgomery also had a strong game off the bench. She added 6 points and more importantly 10 assists and two steals.
After the game, Sue Bird talked about that depth:
"They're just very solid at every position. Obviously they're very deep and they've been playing together for a very long time, and they're just really talented. Four Olympians, multiple all stars, you can just go down the list and I think aside from that, they have a really strong identity and it comes back to what I said first, which is they're solid. They know who they are, they know what they do well, and they stick to it."
Jewell Loyd added to that:
"They really execute, they really dominate on defense, and force you out of your comfort zone; they do a really good job of that. They're a veteran team that's been together for a while, a championship team. They know the tricks, and we're taking notes from them that we can hopefully use when we play other teams."
Minnesota was led by Maya Moore's 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Sylvia Fowles was able to score down low frequently and added 16 points and 6 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen was able to counter Sue Bird, by putting up 12 points and 5 assists.
Seattle had four players in double-figures and were led by Breanna Stewart's 21 points (7-11 shooting) and 9 rebounds. Jewell Loyd added 20 points and 7 assists. Alysha Clark added 14 points and played solid defense on Maya Moore, limiting her to zero points in the 1st quarter. Lastly, Sue Bird started out strong and finished the game with 14 points and 3 assists.
Coach's Post-Game Quotes:
Jenny Boucek on Minnesota's 2nd half run:
"I thought their run really started in the second quarter. They kept a pace that we just couldn't keep up with. They're a great team; they really are a great team. When they're firing on all cylinders like that and they're moving at the pace that they were, they make it really difficult on your defense."
Boucek on the Storm's defense against the Lynx:
"We got a lot of work to do defensively, we just do. We're not on point and in sync with what we want to do. Some of that could be just normal game slippage because we haven't been able to practice in an extended period of time, and so I'm really looking forward to our team getting some rest tomorrow, and then really getting to work."
Key Notes from tonight's Game:
*Seattle's bench was outscored 38-10.
*Seattle was outrebounded 35-23.
*Despite the win, this was the most points Minnesota had given up this season (84).
*Monica Wright played 3 minutes and did not score; Renee Montgomery played 24 mins, had 6 points and 10 assists.
*Seattle had 3 players that played over 30 minutes; Minnesota did not have any (Moore topped at 29 mins).
Seattle gets some time off to rest and relax and to actually get some practices in. The Storm do not play again until Friday June 24th. They will host the Connecticut Sun at KeyArena at 7:00pm.