BRADENTON, Fla. — Securing its third straight victory, the Seattle Storm (14-3) held off a late Washington Mystics (4-12) rally to win, 71-64, Wednesday night.
Seattle was led once again by its frontcourt of Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard, who combined for 29 points and 23 rebounds in the defensive victory.
“[We] outrebounded them, we got to the free throw line and I thought we got some stops down the stretch,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “We got a couple of key stops when we needed to get the win.”
The Storm’s backcourt duo of Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird started a perfect 5-for-5 in the first quarter, with 13 combined points. After one quarter, Seattle was shooting over 60% from the field while holding the Mystics to less than 40% and leading 26-17.
In the second quarter, the Storm were able to keep up the defense, with the Mystics shooting just 34.2 at the half, but made just four shots themselves in a tough offensive frame. Both teams scored less than 15 points and the Storm led by just eight at the halftime break.
Seattle found its rhythm again in the third quarter, with Howard and Loyd leading the way in double figures, and the former approaching a double-double after three. Thanks to their efforts, the Storm opened up their lead to double digits.
Despite a late push from the Mystics, the Storm were able to hold on for another victory, their lead-leading 14th of the season.
“Every game has its own personality, this one kind of turned ugly and it was sort of a grind-it-out game,” Kloppenburg said. “I would expect us to get into a lot better flow in these next couple of games coming up and I think we need to.”
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- Needing just one rebound to reach 1,000 career boards, Natasha Howard grabbed one and then some, finishing with 9 rebounds in the win. Howard is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game this season. Howard has also scored in double figures in seven straight contests, with three double-doubles in that span.
- Breanna Stewart led the Storm in both points (16) and rebounding (14) for her thirty-third career double-double, and third this season.
- After missing time due to a knee injury, Sue Bird returned to add nine points for the Storm.
- Breanna Stewart held her defensive assignment, center Myisha Hines-Allen, to only two points. Hines-Allen is averaging 14.9 points per game this season.
- Emma Meesseman led all scorers with 17 points, for her eleventh game in double figures this season.
- Leilani Mitchell dished out five assists for the third straight game, with just one turnover and seven points. The point guard is averaging 4.3 assists per game this season.
- The Mystics have held the Storm to a season-low 71 points in both meetings this season, previously taking the first game of the season series 89-71.