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Seattle Storm rally from 14 down to win in OT 95-91 over the Chicago Sky

Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart lead a comeback for the ages as the Storm rally to win in OT.

Jewell Loyd and Allie Quigley battled all game long. Loyd finished w/ a game-high 29 points.
Neil Enns/Storm Photography

Correction: This article was initially published stating Jewell Loyd had scored 31 points as that’s what the KeyArena scoreboard said at the end of the game. It turns out this was a scoreboard error and she finished the game with 29 points. We have updated the article accordingly.

When I said Natasha Howard was the Storm’s biggest acquisition this off-season, this is the type of performance I was alluding to. With eight seconds left in the game and the Storm trailing by two, Breanna Stewart missed a layup wide-right, however Howard was there to clean up the offensive rebound and make the put-back basket in mid-air to tie the game at 87-87 and send the home crowd into a frenzy. Chicago brought the ball in and managed to get a two on one fast break with just a few seconds remaining. It looked like Diamond DeShields had an open lane to the basket, but Howard was there to block her shot and knock the ball off DeShields giving the ball back to Seattle. In the final 10 seconds, Natasha Howard made two game-saving plays that allowed the Storm to force Overtime despite trailing by double-digits in the 4th quarter. Howard would finish the game with 16 points, 10 rebounds (including five offensive), two steals, and four blocked shots.

Seattle ferociously rallied late in this game, when things did not look good. The Storm entered the 4th quarter down 11 points after being outscored 29-21 in the third period and would trail by as many as 14 in the fourth. Seattle used excellent pressure defense to force Chicago into turnovers/shot-clock violations. Howard and Alysha Clark performed double-team traps on multiple occasions late in the 4th that threw Chicago’s offense out of sorts resulting in turnovers and bad shots. Seattle finally managed to slow Chicago down offensively, something they had really struggled with all game long. The Storm held the Sky to just 14 points in the 4th quarter.

For the majority of the game Chicago shot lights out. The Sky shot 49% from the floor, and 41% from 3-point range. It was even higher than that most of the game, but they eventually cooled off in the final minutes of the game and OT when Seattle really upped their defensive intensity. The Sky were led by former Storm guard Allie Quigley who had 23 points and shot 67% from the floor (8-12) and 3-point range. They also got huge contributions from rookie Diamond Deshields who scored 19 points and six rebounds. She had several impressive drives to the basket and also made some nice mid-range jumpers. I was high on Deshields coming out of the draft and she was incredibly impressive in her first WNBA game against Seattle.

Seattle got major contributions from their top players. In the Storm’s season opener last week against Phoenix, I was extremely concerned that Jewell Loyd wasn’t in the flow of the offense. In that game, she was held scoreless in the first half and finished the game with just 10 points. That’s not good enough considering she averaged nearly 18 points a game last season. Fortunately, it appears either Loyd or Coach Dan Hughes was able to correct what went wrong in the first game of the season because she bounced back with 29 points in the Storm’s 87-71 victory in Phoenix on Wednesday. And she was even better tonight. Loyd scored a game-high 29 points, including two back-to-back clutch three pointers in the final 30 seconds of the game, which was key to cutting Chicago’s lead and forcing the game into OT. The second three pointer (her fourth of the game) came from Breanna Stewart who threw a beautiful cross-court skip pass to a wide-open Loyd who buried the three to cut the Sky’s lead to one at 86-85 with 20 seconds left. Loyd finished the game with 29 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.

Breanna Stewart also came up big after having an off-shooting night in Phoenix. Stewie had 28 points, including seven in overtime. She also added six rebounds and five assists. Stewart took over in the extra period and finally allowed Seattle to pull ahead for good against Chicago.

Storm rookie guard Jordin Canada was the fourth Storm player to reach double-figures, finishing the game with 10 points, including the game-clinching free throw at the end of overtime that sealed the Storm’s 95-91 victory. Canada continued to be active on defense, pressuring the ball handler often. She only had the one steal but also got her hands on a couple other balls forcing deflections out of bounds.

A few interesting notes:

Chicago Sky head coach Amber Stocks did full five player substitutions multiple times throughout the game. She would sub all five players out and bring in her reserves to get their minutes all at the same time. It’s not very common in basketball to see all five players subbed out unless they’re really playing poorly but Chicago held a near double-digit lead for the majority of the game. Chicago led almost the entire game, but it was interesting nonetheless to see her substitution patterns. It should be noted that in the 3rd period, where the Sky outscored Seattle by eight, Coach Stocks played her starters for eight and a half minutes of the quarter before going to her bench.

Allie Quigley, Chicago’s leading scorer, had to leave the game just seconds into the OT. It looked like she might have gotten banged up at the end of regulation but an injury was not confirmed.

The Storm were out-rebounded 39-34 by Chicago. However, they did have 14 offensive rebounds, doubling up on the amount Chicago had. Those extra possessions allowed Seattle to stay close even when their shot wasn’t going down earlier in the game.

Coach Dan Hughes put a lot of faith in rookie Jordin Canada. Canada played the entire overtime period and finished the game logging nearly 27 minutes total (5th most on the team). Despite playing 11 players, Coach Dan Hughes kept the rotation pretty short as Canada was the only bench player to play more than 10 minutes.

After scoring 29 points against Phoenix on Wednesday and 29 points again Friday against Chicago, Seattle guard Jewell Loyd leads the WNBA in scoring, averaging 22.7 PPG.

The Storm needed this win. Yes, it’s early, but the team has high aspirations this season and wants to earn a top seed in the playoffs. They couldn’t afford to drop their first two games at home this season. Seattle’s schedule is heavy with home games early in the season and they’ll need to have a strong home court advantage to get where they want to go.

Seattle is now 2-1 on the season after back-to-back wins against Phoenix and Chicago. The Storm head to Las Vegas for their first ever game in Vegas on Sunday against former UW star Kelsey Plum and the LV Aces. Seattle will then return home to face the always difficult Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics on Tuesday.