A triple star attack by the Seattle Storm overwhelmed the No. 1 ranked Las Vegas Aces Friday night in Brandenton Florida. The no. 2 ranked Storm’s offense was in high gear and led by by Breanna Stewart’s career-high 37 points and 15 rebounds, and Sue Bird’s WNBA playoff record 16 assists. Additionally, Jewell Loyd dropped a playoff career-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
“In a playoff game, in a Finals game, to have a performance like that is next level,” Bird said of Stewart’s game. “What I think [Stewart] always brings to the table is confidence, there’s an air about her. Tonight, when she got going, I don’t know, you could just feel it, it was oozing out of her. This next level confidence, every shot that went in, it kept building.”
SLOW START FOR STORM
The first quarter started slow for the Storm, who were outdone on the offensive glass in the opening frame, but picked up dramatically thanks to Sue Bird’s six assists. Seattle ended up shooting 64.3% from the field, and held Las Vegas to less than 30% shooting from the field to build a narrow 23-21 lead after one.
A third of the Aces first-quarter points, seven, were second-chance points. The Storm blew the gates open on the offensive end in the second quarter, continuing to shoot a blistering percentage and sharing the ball, ending the frame on a 26-6 run. At half, Seattle led Las Vegas 57-40, with Bird contributing 10 assists, Loyd scoring 19 first half points, and Stewart scoring 16 of her own.
STRONG THIRD QUARTER NOT ENOUGH FOR ACES
The Aces got back into the game in the third quarter, thanks to an improved shooting percentage. The Storm were outscored by 15 points in the frame, and led by just two heading into the fourth quarter. But then Stewart helped the Storm separate, dropping 15 points in the fourth quarter to put the game firmly on ice and leave the court up 1-0 in the series.
“It’s just the preparation from our coaches,” Loyd said. “From Sue [Bird] to [Alysha Clark], our defensive specialists, making sure we knew exactly where we had to be. We know ourselves, we pride ourselves on our defense and then hopefully that leads to good offense so we’re able to play our basketball tonight.”
TOP STAT TO KNOW
It has been 203 days since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her own apartment. There has still been no justice.
- Breanna Stewart set several all-time and franchise records in the Storm’s win, making a WNBA Finals record 15 field goals, and scoring a playoff and Finals career-high 37 points to lead both teams. Stewart’s 37 points are second-most in WNBA Finals history, but with the effort, she moved into first all-time in franchise history in career points scored in the Finals with 114 through four games. Stewart is averaging 28.5 points per game through her four Finals games, best in WNBA history.
- Stewart also notched the fifth-highest rebounding output in WNBA Finals history, grabbing 15 boards, a playoff career-high.
- Sue Bird assisted on 16 baskets, most in playoff and Finals history, breaking her own playoff record set in 2004. She also moved into third place all-time in career assists in the Finals, with 68 career dimes in the championship series. She is just one assist shy of Maya Moore’s 69 career assists in the Finals and is 61 assists short of Lindsay Whalen’s record, 129.
- Breanna Stewart wasn’t the only player cooking on offense for the Storm, Jewell Loyd scored a playoff and Finals career-high 28 points on an 11-of-17 shooting performance from the field. Loyd is shooting a blistering 60.9% from the field in four playoff games this year.
LAS VEGAS HIGHLIGHTS
- The Aces featured a heavily balanced offensive attack, with five players scoring in double figures, led by Angel McCoughtry’s 20 points. A’ja Wilson (19 points), Kayla McBride (13 points), Jackie Young (12 points), and Danielle Robinson (10 points) rounded out Las Vegas’ double-digit scorers.
- Las Vegas outrebounded Seattle, especially on the offensive glass, where it held a 11-3 advantage, as a result, the Aces scored seven second-chance points.