After Seattle had gone 1-3 on their four game road trip, entering Thursday night the Storm had the opportunity to go 3-1 on their four game home-stand. However, they were going to have to beat the Dallas Wings to get there. And unfortunately after a back and forth game that saw Seattle lead by a small margin for the majority of the game; Dallas was able to escape Seattle with an important road victory. Seattle had to settle for 2-2 on their four game home-stand.
Dallas, who used to be the Tulsa Shock (who used to be the Detroit Shock) have built a very strong team with a young core of players. Probably most well-known is Skylar Diggins, former Point Guard out of Notre Dame and also former college teammate of Seattle's Jewell Loyd. But Dallas has an entire roster of talented players, from: Courtney Paris, Odyssey Sims, Karima Christmas, Glory Johnson, and this year's 2016 WNBA Draft pick, Aerial Powers. Powers was drafted 5th overall out of Michigan State. And it was Aerial that led Dallas over Seattle on Thursday night. Powers ended the game as Dallas' leading scorer with 19 points on 7-10 shooting, including 3-4 from 3-point range. She also had 6 rebounds.
As mentioned, Dallas has built a strong young core and they used a balanced offensive attack to edge Seattle. The Wings had four players in double-figures and six players that scored eight points or more. Courtney Paris had 12 points and 12 rebounds. She was an absolute monster down low, getting rebounds over Breanna Stewart and Crystal Langhorne all night long. Karima Christmas also added 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Glory Johnson chipped in 11 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out late in the game. And Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims both added eight points each.
Seattle held onto the lead throughout most of the game. The Storm took a 23-21 lead over Dallas after the first quarter. A 46-44 lead at half-time. And just a one point lead after three quarters of play at 65-64. Unfortunately in the most important quarter of the game, the Storm allowed the Dallas Wings to out-score them 19-13. Give credit to Dallas' defense for tightening up. Especially locking down Jewell Loyd who was having an absolute fantastic game up to that point.
Loyd led the Storm in scoring and had 24 points after just three quarters. For most of the game she vastly outplayed her former college teammate Skylar Diggins. Loyd was very aggressive in attacking the basket, even drawing multiple AND1 calls. Loyd was a much more efficient 8-16 from the floor (compared to her 2-10 performance on Tuesday). And she also added three assists and three steals. Unfortunately, she did have three turnovers, including two costly ones late in the game. Despite having the better statistical game than Diggins, Skylar was able to get the last laugh. Diggins defense kept Loyd in check and held scoreless in the fourth quarter. She also blocked one of Loyd's shot and stripped the ball and knocked it off of her with just 13 seconds left in the game. Securing the victory for Dallas.
Loyd talked to the media after the game, about moving forward after this game:
"We are still very confident. We know that we should have had this win. These are ones that we have to win at home, when it gets really close. We are playing better and have taken steps having played and won some games. We are a team that goes back to the drawing board, we compete in practice, then we take the momentum from practice and carry it in to the games."
While not quite the monstrous game she had against Atlanta on Tuesday, Breanna Stewart still played quite well for the Storm. And continued to show off her incredible versatility. Her shot was a bit off (6-15, including 1-5 from 3-point range), and at times she looked tired out there (she's averaging 35 mins a game this season). But she still managed to put up 17 points, grab 8 rebounds, toss 6 assists, and block 4 shots. Unfortunately, she had a very costly turnover at the end of the game, where she stepped out of bounds when attempting a corner 3-pointer which would have tied the game.
Stewart talked about that after the game:
"We had some good looks at the basket and then some things that didn't go our way. Stepping out of bounds or the ball rolling off Jewell. This was a win we wanted to get on our home game stretch so this stinks a little bit, but we have a road trip coming up that we have to focus on."
Dallas' Head Coach Fred Williams:
When asked his take on the game:
"I thought both teams fought really hard back and forth throughout the whole game with good shooting. There were a lot of situations where defensively, both teams really got aggressive with each other. It came down to the last minute or so for both coaches to figure things out and what to do. It was a good-fought game and could've gone either way."
On Aerial Powers' game:
"She played with a lot of energy tonight. I thought she was on rhythm, especially in transition. She was being aggressive shooting her jump shot. I told her to go out and just relax and play. She had the opportunity to pretty much go one-on-one, shake and back and shoot her shot. She still made a few rookie mistakes defensively with some fouls, but she made it up on the offensive end."
Seattle Storm Coach Jenny Boucek:
On the development of the team so far:
"I think we are getting better. I think even from last game to this game we got better. Some of the things that we have been focusing on we are showing improvement in. So I think we are getting better we are trying to stay focused on our process. All these close games come down to who makes the plays down the stretch and who doesn't. But we are playing well enough to position ourselves to beat some of the top teams in the league, playoff teams. Teams that have been together for a while. We had those chances tonight."
Key Notes from the Game:
*Dallas shot and made a ton of 3-pointers and that was the difference in the game. They made 11-22, 3 point shots, including one by Aerial Powers with under a minute to play to give Dallas the lead for good.
*Dallas out-rebounded Seattle 38-28, including 5 offensive rebounds by Courtney Paris.
*Dallas got 9 more Free Throw attempts and made 7 more than Seattle (22 to 15).
*Seattle held the edge in Steals (+3) and Assists (+6).
*Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis got more playing time (11 mins) but went 0-4, zero points.
*Jenna O'Hea, Monica Wright, and Abby Bishop did not play - Coach's Decision.
Seattle heads out on the road for a three game road trip, beginning with a rematch from last Tuesday against the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday July 5th.