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Loyd's new career high, Stewart's near triple double lead Storm past the Mercury

For the second time this season, Jewell Loyd scores 30 or more points in a win against the Phoenix Mercury, 95-81.

Jewell Loyd takes it right past 6'8" Brittney Griner as Diana Taurasi looks on
Jewell Loyd takes it right past 6'8" Brittney Griner as Diana Taurasi looks on
Neil Enns

The future was on display last night in Seattle.  The future is quickly becoming the present.  Last year's rookie of the year, Jewell Loyd, once again put on an offensive display.  It was a thing of beauty.  Loyd was knocking down three pointers, aggressively attacking the basket against 6'8" Brittney Griner, and collecting offensive rebounds over Griner and other Mercury players, for put-back layups.  This was all on her way to a new career high of 32 points.  This was the second time in her career where Loyd has scored 30 points or more.  The first time was in a thrilling victory down in Phoenix this season; where Loyd hit the game winning shot with under three seconds to play.  Loyd scored 32 points on 12-18 shooting, including her much improved three point shooting (4-7).  She also added nine rebounds and three assists.

Coach Jenny Boucek on Jewell Loy'd performance tonight:
"She was guarding Taurasi, one of the best players ever, and playing the two, playing the one, letting stuff come to her and not forcing it.  It wasn't an individual effort, she was acreating for others and just taking things as they came and if she can keep doing that, then she's going to reach a whole other level because she showed her ability to be a play maker and not just a scorer.  Even though she ended up scoring a lot, she was playing as more of a play maker and really just taking what the defense was giving her."

Loyd wasn't the only Storm player to have a great game last night.  Breanna Stewart, fresh off winning the Rookie of the Month award for May, was just one assist shy of her first career triple double.  To put that in perspective, of all the great players that have played for the Seattle Storm, only one player in franchise history has ever had a triple double; which was Tamika Johnson in 2014.  The near triple-double just goes to show you the type of versatility that Breanna Stewart brings to the Storm.  Stewie had 14 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 blocks.  And she also held her own on the defensive end of the floor against talented center Brittney Griner.

After the game, Sue Bird talked about the chemistry between Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart:
"They had some Sports Center Top 10 type plays today.  What you're seeing is two obviously young players but incredibly taleneted and incredibly athletic.  They're the type of players we just haven't seen much in this league and it speaks to where basketball in America is going and all that good stuff, but we're lucky to have both of them on the same team here in Seattle."

Jenna O'Hea got her second start of the season as Alysha Clark is still dealing with a right knee bruise that kept her out of Wednesday's game against Indiana.  O'Hea had her best game of the season as she contributed 14 points and three assists.  Which included some deadly three point shooting, going 4-7 from behind the arc.  She even forced Diana Taurasi into a frustration foul in the 2nd quarter; where Taurasi blatantly shoved O'Hea in the back after being beaten to the basket.

Sue Bird continued her strong season, contributing 14 points, six assists, four steals, and four rebounds.  It was noted that Sue Bird looked to be in some of the best shape of her life during practices before the season started.  That has held true so far this season.  Outside of a really poor game against the Los Angeles Sparks in the first game of the season, Bird has been very consistent and her scoring is up from last season.  She's now averaging 12.6 points a game this season, up from 10.3 last season.

After the first period, the Storm were up 23-19.  The Storm have struggled all season with turnovers.  Not surprising for a team as young as Seattle is.  However, they did a great job in the first quarter of limiting turnovers, with only one giveaway.  Things did get sloppier in the second period and offense got stagnant at times.  However, Seattle took a double-digit lead as Phoenix was struggling on defense.  Phoenix would counter with a 10-1 run to cut Seattle's lead to just one point, at 43-42.  Jewell Loyd had a very impressive second quarter, scoring 13 points to give her 19 at half-time.  The Storm shot 50% from the floor in the first half, 18-36 and also have an 8-0 advantage in Fast Break points.  Seattle led 49-44 at the half.

In the 3rd quarter, Jewell Loyd had an incredibly impressive offensive rebound and tip-back for two points.  However, Phoenix countered with Penny Taylor who was unstoppable from behind the arc.  It was Taylor's three pointers that really kept Phoenix in the game.  Taylor started 6-6 from three point range.  Isabelle Harrison was also very impressive off the bench for Phoenix.  She had some very fancy foot-work down low in the post.  It was very reminiscent of Seattle's own Crystal Langhorne, who is known for having some of the best low-post footwork in the game.  Harrison contributed 12 points on 5-6 shooting in just 13 minutes.  The Storm would go on a 9-0 run during the 3rd quarter to open the game up and put the Storm up 72-56.  Seattle would carry an eleven point lead into the 4th quarter, 76-65.

Early in the 4th quarter, Jewell Loyd hit a step-back 3-pointer.  Which gave her 500 career points, very early into just her second season.  In what may go down as the most impressive play of the season, on a fast break, Jewell Loyd threw the ball up for an alley-oop layup for Breanna Stewart; but Stewart actually tossed it back to Loyd for a double-alley-oop.  The crowd went crazy and Dick Fain went ballistic on the play-by-play.  That is the future and now the present of the Seattle Storm.  Seattle would go on to win 95-81.

Key Notes from tonight's game:
*Brittney Griner was dominant down low at times, but still only had 13 points and 6 rebounds and was in foul trouble.
*Griner picked up a technical foul for slamming the ball in frustration in the 3rd quarter.
*Diana Taurasi did not look like her normal self, shooting just 3-9 and scoring only 8 points for Phoenix.
*Jewell Loyd has set a new career high against Phoenix twice this season (30 points on 05/20 and 32 points on 06/03).
*In Seattle's 3 victories, Jewell Loyd is averaging over 29 points per game.

What's Next?
Seattle will host a very good New York Liberty team on Sunday at 4:00pm at KeyArena.