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Jewell Loyd and the Storm stun the Mercury in Phoenix, win 81-80.

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Jewell Loyd's bank shot with 3 seconds left in the game gives the Seattle Storm their first victory of the season.

Jewell Loyd scores a career high 30 points, including the game winner
Jewell Loyd scores a career high 30 points, including the game winner
Neil Enns

Wow.  What a game.  After being blown out in Game #1 of the 2016 WNBA season against the Los Angeles Sparks 66-96, the Seattle Storm battled through adversity and never gave up; even when they were down double digits in the first half.  The team fought to the very end, with twelve seconds left in the game and trailing by one point, they would get an important defensive stop and rebound to give themselves a chance to win.  Loyd would inbound the ball, Crystal Langhorne would set a down screen to free up Sue Bird to come get the ball, Breanna Stewart would pop out above the three point line and receive the pass from Bird.  Crystal Langhorne would set another screen to free Loyd who would come receive the ball from Stewie and that's where the magic would happen.  Loyd attacks right, crosses-over back to her left, then attacks right again and takes a fade-away 15 footer over Candace Dupree's out-stretched arms.  It goes off glass and in, putting the Storm up 81-80 with under three seconds to play.  This capped off a career night for Jewell Loyd, who scored a new career high with 30 points; none bigger than the eventual game winner!

Coach Jenny Boucek on Jewell's game-winning shot, "When it comes to the end of games, in this league, the defenses are so tough, the coaches are so smart that a lot of times it's going to be a broken play and a player or teammate making a play out of a broken play and that's what happened."

Seattle still had to play defense on that last possession as three seconds was plenty of time left for either Diana Taurasi or Brittney Griner.  The Mercury would screen for Taurasi to get the ball in the corner, but instead of attacking the basket or passing down low to Griner, Taurasi would dribble out to the top of the three point line, away from the basket.  Clark was there and Breanna Stewart came out to help as there was no longer enough time left for Taurasi to pass and for another player to take the shot.  With Stewie's 7'1" wingspan and Alysha Clark's hands up in the air, Diana Taurasi would air ball the three pointer and the Seattle Storm would walk out of the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix with a very important road victory for this young team.

Jewell Loyd on how the team was able to overcome the big early deficit, "We're just really relentless.  I think today showed, not just everyone but ourselves, that we can fight back.  And we can get down and fight back.  We just made them take really hard shots and just stuck with it.  We got it down to close numbers, we could overcome any deficiencies form the first quarter.  So for us we just need to keep battling and that's what happened tonight."

For those following along, the Seattle Storm are working to rebuild the franchise back to greatness that the team has enjoyed for most of its years.  The past two years have been very tough though.  Last season, the Storm were 2-15 on the road; with the only two victories coming against a Los Angeles Sparks team that was missing Candace Parker.  So this victory is big for this team.  The team last season does not win this game, they do not bounce back and persevere.  But in having two tough years, the Storm have capitalized on their fortune of winning the #1 pick in the WNBA Draft the past two seasons; taking Jewell Loyd out of Notre Dame in 2015 and Breanna Stewart out of UConn in 2016.  Loyd won Rookie of the Year last season and this season she is averaging 25 points a game; while it is early, 25 points is good enough to lead the entire league in scoring.  Breanna Stewart also contributed with her first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. 

The other key to tonight's game was the play of veteran players like Sue Bird and Crystal Langhorne.  Sue added 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.  Crystal contributed with 11 points and seven rebounds.  The two young stars are playing extremely well to start the 2016 season, but if the Storm want to win games like they did tonight, they will need solid contributions from their veterans.  They didn't get that in their first game against the Sparks and they lost by 30 points.  They got it tonight and they came away with an important road victory.

The other interesting note from tonight's game was that Coach Jenny Boucek shortened her bench and went with just an eight player rotation.  The following players did not play due to Coach's decision: Monica Wright, Abby Bishop, Jenna O'Hea and Blake Dietrick.  It's understandable why Blake didn't get in there with such a tight game.  And Jenna has only been back from France for a few days; so she probably hasn't had enough practice time with the other Storm players.  But it was interesting to see both Monica Wright and Abby Bishop sit out the entire game.  Both players are coming off injuries from last season, but they both played in the game against Los Angeles last Sunday.

The Phoenix Mercury now fall to 0-3 to start the season.  Quite the surprise as some national media had picked them to be the best team this season.  Tonight, they were led by Diana Taurasi's 23 points and six assists, Brittney Griner's 19 points and six rebounds, Penny Taylor's 15 points and seven rebounds, and DeWanna Bonner's 13 points and six rebounds.  Things won't get any easier for Phoenix as they host the defending champion Minnesota Lynx next Wednesday.

The Storm return from their two game road trip with a 1-1 record and they also host the defending champion Minnesota Lynx for their next game in Seattle on Sunday, May 22nd.  Let's get as many fans to pack KeyArena on Sunday and cheer on this young, exciting team.