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Seattle Storm surge past the New York Liberty in the 2nd half to win 102-78.

Seattle out-scores New York 54-32 in the 2nd half of Wednesday’s game.

Breanna Stewart shoots over two Liberty players.
New York Liberty Facebook

Since the Storm have returned from the 2016 Rio Olympics they have looked like a completely different team. Seattle has not been over .500 record this entire season. But since returning from the Olympics Seattle has gone 4-2 over their past six games; including two impressive victories on the road against Atlanta and now at New York on Wednesday evening.

New York has the 3rd best record in the WNBA and arguably the league’s MVP, in Tina Charles. They have dominated Seattle in recent head-to-head match-ups. New York had not lost to Seattle in New York since 2010. The year Seattle took home its second WNBA Championship. But without quality players Kiah Stokes and former Storm great, Tanisha Wright, the New York Liberty would be no match for the up-start Storm squad that is very hungry for a post-season birth.

That isn’t to say it was a complete blowout from the get-go. New York did have an early lead in the first quarter, before Seattle would take a one point lead after one quarter of play, 26-25. The second quarter was more of the same, with both teams playing pretty well and Seattle edging New York by one point again, 22-21. The Storm would take a 48-46 lead into the 2nd half. Seattle was led by their young dynamic duo of Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart who each had 12 points at the end of the first half.

Seattle would blow the game completely open in the second half. The Storm had a monstrous third quarter scoring 30 points. And out-scoring the Liberty 30-20. Seattle really put the defensive clamps down on New York in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter where they only allowed 12 points and out-scored New York 24-12. Seattle’s dominant second half was led by their core four. The young duo of Loyd and Stewart and the veteran duo of Bird and Langhorne. Crystal Langhorne was especially impressive coming back from her lacerated eye injury she experienced against Chicago back on September 2nd. Langhorne had one of her better games of the season scoring 21 points on an incredibly impressive and efficient 10-12 shooting. She also contributed by pulling down nine rebounds and matching up against New York’s front court defensively; which is easily one of the best in the league.

Jewell Loyd continues her impressive run, leading all scorers with a game-high 25 points on 9-14 shooting. She also added five rebounds and four assists. Jewell Loyd has now led Seattle in scoring in four of the past five games. All four of those games she has scored 20 or more points. And the one game she didn’t lead the team in scoring (against Atlanta), she still contributed 17 points. Loyd has been on fire since the Olympic break and really starting to come into her own in just her second season in the WNBA. She continues to prove that she has the talent to be a force in the WNBA, after winning rookie of the year in her first season. Loyd is one of the top candidates for Most Improved Player of the year awards, as she has upped her scoring average from 11 points her rookie season, to over 17 points in her sophomore campaign.

Breanna Stewart continues to impress. She has all but-locked up the WNBA Rookie of the Year award. Winning Rookie of the Month, every single month throughout the entire WNBA season. Stewart was second in scoring with 23 points on 8-14 shooting. She also went 5-6 from the foul line; had nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Stewart is not used to losing or having losing seasons. And as her first WNBA season is nearing the end, it appears Stewie is going to do everything in her power to put the Storm in the post-season for the first time since 2013.

Sue Bird continues her fantastic play as it appears she’s found the fountain of youth. She continues to impress this season as it has easily been her best over the past several years. Tonight against New York, Bird knocked down crucial big game shots to help Seattle pull away. Ultimately, she ended with 12 points and a game-high eight assists.

New York was led by Tina Charles, who led the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists. She had 22 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists against Seattle. Leading the team in three statistical categories is part of the reason Charles can be argued as a potential top MVP candidate. She does everything for the Liberty and is surrounded by less talent than other top MVP candidates on Minnesota and Los Angeles. With that said, Charles wasn’t able to beat Seattle by herself (something I’d argue she did TWICE last season). Sugar Rodgers was the only other Liberty player to really contribute much, scoring 15 points and knocking down four 3-pointers.

Swin Cash was honored at Madison Square Garden after the game for her illustrious career; which includes championships with the Detroit Shock (now Dallas Wings) and the Seattle Storm in 2010.

What’s Next?
Seattle arguably plays their most important game of the regular season on Friday at 4:00pm PST against the Washington Mystics. Seattle now has four games remaining on their schedule and four games to prove whether they’re ending their playoff drought or headed back to the WNBA Draft Lottery. This game against the Mystics very well could determine the outcome of the playoffs for both teams. Currently the Storm and Mystics have split the regular season 1-1. Washington defeated Seattle 84-82 in OT in Seattle, very early on in the season back in May. And then Seattle absolutely crushed Washington 80-51 back in July on Lauren Jackson retirement night in Seattle.

Seattle is currently the 7th seed, thanks to their season-series victory over the Phoenix Mercury, which gives the Storm the tie-breaker advantage. The Mystics are currently the 9th overall seed at 12-17 and just 12 game behind both Phoenix and Seattle. The Storm, the Mercury, and the Mystics are all fighting for the final two playoff spots. Seattle will play both of these teams on the road to end the season. Victories in both would all-but guarantee a playoff spot, as they’d hold the tie-breaker over both teams.