The Seattle Storm(18-4) drew first blood in their best of five WNBA Semifinal playoff series with the Minnesota Lynx( 14-8). Alysha Clarks buzzer beating shot gave the Storm the breathtaking 88-86 win.
Tied at 86-86 with nearly no time left, Clark grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up and in at the buzzer to seal the victory late in a stunning series-opening win.
“I think she had a flashback to her college days there down inside when she used to be a post player,” head coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “Fortunately we got a little luck there and I’m glad she picked up that rebound and put it back in.”
Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart led a strong group of scorers for the Storm with 25 and 21 points, respectively, with Stewart also leading the way with 10 rebounds. After falling behind early, Seattle stormed back to take a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, led by Loyd’s eight points.
Both teams struggled to shoot out of the gate however, with both team’s shooting below 40% from the field. Loyd continued her scoring outburst into the second quarter, scoring 10 more points for 18 total at the halftime break. Along with Loyd, the rest of the Storm stayed in the game with their three-ball, shooting 10-of-16 from distance to go up 50-45 at the half.
STEWART LEADS THE WAY IN THIRD QUARTER
In the third quarter, it was Stewart’s turn to share the scoring load, with a double-digit scoring output in the frame and 21 points at the end of the third quarter total. The Storm got out to their largest lead of the game to that point entering the fourth, leading 72-63.
A quick burst from the Lynx put the game back within reach however, and after back and forth buckets for the rest of the game, it came down to the final minutes, and Clark’s buzzer-beating putback for the win.
“[Clark is] always doing the little things, getting open, getting rebounds, and obviously tonight grabbing rebounds for a putback,” Loyd said. “She’s constantly getting overlooked and she’s the heart to this team.”
The Storm featured five double-digit scorers, and made 50% of their three-pointers in the win. Along with Loyd and Stewart, Clark (12 points), Sue Bird (11 points), and Natasha Howard (10 points) scored in double figures. Bird also dished out a game-high eight assists
- The Storm’s 24 assists tied its second-best mark in postseason franchise history. Seattle led the WNBA in team assists per game during the regular season with 21.9.
- Seattle tied a franchise high in three-pointers made for a playoff game with 13. During the regular season, the Storm tied for second with 8.4 made three-pointers per game over 22 games.
- Jewell Loyd’s four made three-pointers is tied for fifth-best in playoff franchise history, and her 8-for-9 shooting performance is tied for the most efficient in Storm playoff history. Loyd’s 88.9% field goal percentage tied Natasha Howard’s performance in the 2018 Finals against the Washington Mystics.
- Breanna Stewart led the Storm with 10 rebounds, along with 21 points for a double-double.
- Every Storm starter scored in double digits. Howard scored 10, Sue Bird scored 11, and Alysha Clark added 12, including a buzzer beater to keep the game from going to overtime and secure the win.
- Minnesota’s 14 made three-pointers is a franchise record for a playoff game, and is tied for the second-most three-pointers made in WNBA playoff history.
- The Lynx had four double-digit scorers, led by Napheesa Collier’s 25 points and nine rebounds. Collier was joined in double figures by Odyssey Sims (19 points), Bridget Carleton (14 points), and Damiris Dantas (11 points).
- Napheesa Collier recorded five blocks in the fourth quarter to tie Britney Griner for the WNBA playoff record. It’s the first time a Lynx player has been credited with five blocks in a single quarter of any game, regular or postseason.