Coming into Sunday’s game, the Seattle Storm still had something to play for. While last year, they played against the San Antonio Stars with the best odds to land Breanna Stewart on the line. The Storm lost that game, but in the long-term they won as they won the WNBA Draft Lottery and drafted Breanna Stewart number one overall. But this season, the Storm have quickly turned the franchise back around. They clinched a playoff spot in Stewart’s rookie season. Something a lot of panel experts did not predict. But on Sunday, Seattle had an opportunity to not only make the playoffs but clinch the 7th seed with a win over Chicago Sky. And a win is exactly what they got. The Storm have now won 7 of their last 10 games; making them the second hottest team in the WNBA only below the number one overall seed, Minnesota Lynx.
In the first quarter, the Seattle Storm got out to an early 5-0 lead. But then Chicago would rally and take the lead 10-9. Seattle and Chicago would battle back and forth and would end up tied after one, 18-18. Chicago was impressive as they were without Elena Delle Donne who was out injured (she had surgery on her thumb on Tuesday). And two of their other top players, Washington’s own Courtney Vandersloot and then Cappie Pondexter would both sit out, coach’s decision. Seattle struggled with the ball in the first quarter and had five turnovers. Seattle shot just 35% from the floor, going 6-17 from the floor.
In the 2nd quarter, Seattle did a much better job of hanging onto the ball, as they only had one turnover. Seattle continued to have a poor shooting in the second quarter, going 8-22 for 36%. Ramu Tokashiki continued her strong play off the bench and led the Storm with 9 points in the first half. Stewart had a scare in the second quarter where she rolled her ankle and did not get up immediately. She stayed down on the floor for another possession and then Seattle intentionally fouled to stop play. Fortunately, Stewart was able to walk off on her own accord. She would return to the game after resting on the bench for a few minutes. Sue Bird was able to nail a clutch 3-pointer with two seconds left in the first half to put Seattle up five. Seattle out-scored Chicago 21-16 in the quarter and led 39-34.
Seattle jumped out to their biggest lead of the game up 47-34 early in the third quarter. Chicago did a good job at rallying and keeping the game close. Sue Bird and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Seattle up 62-54. Despite being down by as many as 13 points, Chicago would go on a 7-1 run to close out the quarter and cut Seattle’s lead to just two, 63-61, heading into the final frame.
The Storm came to life in the 4th quarter. Seattle was able to out-score Chicago 25-14, and at one point they were up twenty at 85-65. Seattle would clear out the bench and let everyone get a chance to play, which was great to see on Fan Appreciate Night. Seattle would ultimately win the game 88-75. Seattle was led by Breanna Stewart’s 18 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
We spoke to Breanna Stewart after the game, on making the playoffs:
On breaking Lisa Leslie’s record:
Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd also got into double figures, Bird had 14 points and five assists. And Jewell Loyd had 10 points and led the team with six assists. But most impressively was the Storm’s bench and specifically Ramu Tokashiki and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Tok scored 14 points in 17 minutes and was the most aggressive we’ve seen her all season. Multiple times she attacked the basket instead of settling for jump shots. And KML was on fire from downtown, she went 6-9 from the floor, including 4-6 from the 3-point line. Kaleena scored 16 points in 16 minutes off the bench, in one of her best games of the season.
When asked about getting open shots, Kaleena had this to say,
Seattle Storm Coach Jenny Boucek
On the bench play tonight:
On their poor performance against in Phoenix on Thursday:
Chicago Sky Coach Pokey Chatman
On Elena Delle Donne’s injury:
On her impressions of Breanna Stewart this year:
THE PLAYOFFS! Seattle travels to Atlanta tomorrow and will play the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday at 5:00pm