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Fever burns Storm as Indiana beats Seattle 93-82

The Indiana Fever had six players in double-figures and used a strong second half to topple Seattle at KeyArena.

Breanna Stewart goes for two of her game high 32 points against the Indiana Fever.
Breanna Stewart goes for two of her game high 32 points against the Indiana Fever.
Neil Enns/Storm Photography

Seattle had a great opportunity to beat Indiana at home, which would have given them the tie-breaker in the season-series.  And both teams would have been tied with a record of 8-12 and right on the verge of the 8th and final playoff spot.  As it was, the Indiana Fever used a dominant 2nd half to limit the Storm to just 32 points and win the game 93-82.

The game started out with a ton of fouls getting called.  I believe 3 of the first four possessions on defense, the Storm got called for fouls; including two very early fouls on Jewell Loyd that really limited her first half minutes.  Indiana went on a big run to start the game, up 11-2, forcing Coach Jenny Boucek to call a timeout.  The Storm were actually able to rally in the 1st quarter, behind their bench.  Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was the first player off the bench and she was able to get five points and an assist.  Ramu Tokashiki was also big in scoring six points in the first period.  They helped cut Indiana's lead to seven, 25-18.

Seattle was down nine, 27-18, early into the 2nd quarter and went on a huge rally.  The Storm went on a 9-0 run, to tie the game up at 27-27.  And they used a barrage of 3-pointers to take the lead.  Seattle hit six three pointers in the 2nd quarter alone.  It was almost like I was watching the Golden State Warriors out there playing for a moment.  There was some really fun moments where Breanna Stewart drew defenders in and kicked out to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for a three pointer.  And I believe on the very next possession, Kaleena was able to get a pass out to Stewie who knocked down another three pointer.  It was almost like the two were back in Connecticut. 

I talked to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis after the game about getting more playing time recently and the struggle of getting into a rhythm when she was only getting limited minutes.

On what coaches said to her earlier in the season when she wasn't getting the playing time, Kaleena said, "I was told to just keep my mindset strong, keep positive, and keep working hard in practice.  Just making sure to be consistent and do what I could with the minutes I was getting."

On how difficult it can be to find a rhythm as a scorer when her minutes have been limited, KML said, "It's difficult, but I think with the type of players we have on our team it's going to be different every night for who's going to be hot.  It's tough as a scorer if you don't get a lot and you don't get into a rhythm.  But I think the main thing is just to stay positive and wait it out until I got the opportunity."

Breanna Stewart had a monster second quarter, putting up 16 points in the period.  She helped lead Seattle to a 50-40 lead (a 19 point swing in the quarter).  Unfortunately, Indiana was able to hit a three pointer and get a questionable foul drawn against Seattle on the final play of the half.  Which allowed Indiana to keep it much closer and cut Seattle's lead to just six at halftime, 50-44. 

After Seattle had out-scored Indiana 32-19 in the 2nd quarter, they went ice cold in the 2nd half.  Lynetta Kizer and Tiffany Mitchell helped Indiana quickly erase Seattle's first half lead.  But it was Shenise Johnson who played the biggest factor, scoring 18 points to lead Indiana, including five 3-pointers.  Indiana was able to take the lead in the 3rd quarter and hold it for good.  Indiana out-scored Seattle 25-16 in the 3rd quarter and 24-16 in the 4th quarter.  Seattle scored 32 points in the 2nd quarter, but managed just 32 points total in the entire 2nd half.  In the 2nd half, Indiana's defense became suffocating and they were knocking down all of their shots.

Breanna Stewart had another monster game for the two-time Rookie of the Month Winner.  Stewart had a game high with 32 points and 11 rebounds.  She also pitched in five assists.  But she was clearly frustrated after the game.  Probably the most we've seen her up to this point.

Stewart was interviewed after the game and had this to say:
"I think it's a little bit of frustration, knowing that each game we play is getting more and more important and that we need these games if we want to be able to be in playoff contention.  But having three more home games is going to be great.  We had a rough stretch, four games in six days, so days off will be nice and then we just have to get back to it."

Indiana shot 58% from the floor on 36-62 shots.  Including 11-23 from behind the 3-point arc for 48%.  This was a bit of a surprise as Indiana is the 2nd worst 3-point shooting team in the WNBA.

Key Notes from the Game:

*Indiana's bench out-scored Seattle's 41-18.
*Storm had 4 players in double-figures, but besides Stewart's 32, the next highest was Clark's 11 points.
*Alysha Clark, Jewell Loyd, and Sue Bird combined to shoot 10-27 from the floor for 37%.
*Seattle was out-scored 49-32 in the 2nd half.
*Tamika Catchings had 15 points and 4 steals in her final game in Seattle (retiring after this season).
*Indiana out-rebounded Seattle 31-23.

Coach's Corner:

Seattle Storm Head Coach Jenny Boucek:
(On the momentum swing in the 2nd half)
"We ran out of gas. We had four games in six nights in four cities, just came back from the East coast, and it's a tough schedule right now.  On the other hand, Indiana is starting to look like the Championship team that they area, that made it to the finals last year. They're looking like that team and they played really, really well tonight."

(On Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis's play recently)
"Everyone is competing in practice for minutes and as much as I want them supporting one another, the reality is that they earn trust in practices and Kaleena put together some really good consecutive practices and earned that spot."

Indiana Fever's Head Coach Stephanie White:
(On the game in general)
"Well it wasn't pretty, I was proud of our resillience and really fighting through some things to be able to come away with a win.  I thought our defense got a little more active in the second half and our offense got a little more fluid.  Any time our defense really generates offense for us, it gives us some confidence.  I love the way we shared the ball and had great balance on the offensive end of the floor.  We tried to take it up a notch in the second half and we got up one notch, not much more than that.  But at the same time, we found ways and that's what it's about - our growth.  At the end of the day, when it's not going as well as we'd like, to find ways to win and we did that."

What's Next?
It's an incredibly important night as the Seattle Storm will honor and retire Lauren Jackson's jersey this Friday in a game against the Washington Mystics at KeyArena.  Lauren Jackson is a 3-time WNBA MVP and a two-time WNBA Champion with the Seattle Storm.  She played all 12 of her WNBA seasons in Seattle and will be the first Storm player in franchise history to have her number retired.