Professional Basketball




Loyd scores 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting to pace Seattle offense

SEATTLE – When Jewell Loyd has a hot hand, it sometimes seems as if she can hit the hoop with her eyes closed.

She didn’t have to do that on Thursday night. But her left eye was definitely in pain for most of the game after an inadvertent poke.

Loyd poured in a season-high 34 points, getting 18 of those from behind the 3-point arc, and the Seattle Storm used three sizable scoring runs to take control and then keep control against Indiana, beating the Fever in a sold-out Climate Pledge Arena, 89-77.

Ezi Magbegor added 18 points, and Nneka Ogwumike came up with her fifth double-double of the season, this one with 15 points and 11 rebounds in front of 18,343 fans.

But it was Loyd who delivered the kind of scoring performance that fans became accustomed to last year when she set the WNBA’s single-season record. She had 15 in the first quarter alone, five of them during a 12-0 run that helped the Storm (11-6) turn an 8-4 deficit into a 16-8 lead. Loyd started that surge with a pull-up jumper and capped it with a 3-pointer from the right of the lane.

With 46.2 seconds left in that opening period, Loyd was inadvertently poked in the eye. She went down to the court, staying there for about a minute, then was helped to the sideline. Because it was a shooting foul (the Storm were in the bonus), Loyd had to take the two free throws. She did, hitting both of them.

Loyd then subbed out, returning with 5:47 left in the second quarter, and proceeded to tally another eight points. That gave her 23 by halftime on 7-of-9 shooting overall, with 5-of-7 from downtown – more long-range makes in one half than she had in any other game this season. (Her previous high was four on May 25 against Washington.)

For the game, Loyd hit 10 of 15, with 6 of 9 downtown, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the foul line. She also grabbed five rebounds.

Her previous high scoring game this year was 32 against Indiana on May 22 in Seattle. Thursday was her 23rd career game of 30-plus points.

“I’ve played with Jewell; now I’m coaching her,” Noelle Quinn said. “I’ve seen it time and time again. You talk about the law of averages and someone who has continued to work on her craft at a high level and has stayed the course. We know it’s coming, and when it comes, it comes in a storm, it comes in a barrage.

“It’s about putting in the work, and the game rewards you when you do that.”

After their 12-0 first-quarter run, the Storm had a burst of eight straight points early in the second to push it back out to double-digits at 40-29 after the Fever (7-12) had gotten back within three. Seattle got it all the way back up to 17 near the end of the half, 53-36, on back-to-back treys by Loyd.

Indiana climbed back within nine at 70-61 heading into the fourth. But the Storm started that quarter with a 9-0 run, forcing the Fever into missing their first six shots and keeping them off the board until just 5:44 remained when Kelsey Mitchell beat the shot clock buzzer with a deep 3-pointer. That made it 79-64. But the Fever never got closer than 13 until NaLyssa Smith’s basket in the final seconds.

“We talked about it at the end of the third and we talked about it starting the fourth,” Quinn said. “We executed. We were locked in to do what we needed to accomplish in that time frame when the game could go either way.”

Quinn often mentions how the Storm like to “hang their hat on defense.” On Thursday, that included forcing 22 turnovers – the second-highest total by any opponent this season – which they converted into 27 points.

That defense limited Caitlin Clark to 15 points 4-of-9 shooting. She had 12 points at halftime, and her only points during the second half came on three free throws. She did dish seven assists. Erica Wheeler had 15 off the bench for Indiana.

“We had to make sure we were always setting, if not exceeding, the tone of the game,” Ogwumike said. “They had moments where they capitalized. They had some really good input from their bench play (25 points, led by Wheeler’s 15). We needed to make sure we stopped who we planned to stop and that others weren’t a factor. We did a really good job of making every possession a defensive possession.”


–Once again, the Storm moved the basketball with 27 assists on 32 makes. Skylar Diggins-Smith had nine of those, tying her season high. The 27 total tied for Seattle’s second-highest total of the year, exceeded only by 29 at Indiana in a 103-88 win on May 30.

— The Storm now has nine games of 20-plus assists and are 8-1 in those games.

— Seattle hit 45.7 percent from the field (32 of 70), with 40 percent behind the arc (10 of 25). Indiana was at 44.6 percent (29 of 65), and 42.1 (8 of 19) long range.

— The Fever had a sizable advantage on the boards, 44-27, with 14 at the offensive end. But they got just eight second-chance points. The Storm turned their five offensive boards into nine second-chance points.


The third game of Seattle’s WNBA-record nine-game homestand is Saturday against Dallas at 6:00 p.m. The Storm already have one win against the Wings this year, 92-84 in Dallas on June 13.

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