Seattle, Wash. – Eleven points would typically constitute a bad night for either Breanna Stewart or Jewell Loyd, individually.
But when the pair of No. 1 picks combines for 11 points, as they did on Sunday, it also constitutes a bad result for their team.
Stewart and Loyd together were 4-of-19 from the field (the latter 0-for-8) as the Liberty pulled away in the second half for an 86-78 victory over the Storm at Key Arena.
Without the scoring punch from the young duo, forwards Alysha Clark and Ramu Tokashiki provided much of the offense, with Clark putting up a career-high 23 points on the night and the Tokashiki adding a season-high 15. Sue Bird and Crystal Langhorne also finished in double figures, with 13 and 10, respectively.
“We just set good screens and were moving the ball on offense, that’s really all it came down to,” Clark said. “Nothing fancy.”
Meanwhile, teammates also had high praise for Tokashiki’s performance.
“She’s been a little hesitant at times, and tonight you could tell, right from the first time she touched the ball, she was thinking aggressively and was looking for her shot,” Bird said.
For New York, the post rotation of Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes, and Carolyn Swords combined for 32 points (19 from Charles) and 26 rebounds, as the Liberty outscored Seattle 44-32 in the paint. Throughout the game, the Storm had no answer as the trio often had easy looks near the basket. Both Stokes and Swords were 3-of-4 from the field, while Charles went 9-of-20.
After leading by just one at halftime, New York was up by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but the Storm cut the deficit all the way down to three with 3:45 to play. Seattle made multiple stops with a chance to tie the game on the other end, but couldn’t get the shots to fall.
“Bottom line, we got good shots,” Bird said. “We got a lot of wide open, good shots that I think on an average day we make, but today we weren’t.”
Coach Jenny Boucek said her team is “inconsistent in a lot of ways,” as it continues to grow, and came out on Sunday without the energy it needed, playing its third game in six days.
“That was the energy we needed to play against this team, we just didn’t find it until the fourth quarter,” Boucek said. “I thought we were a step slow, and we weren’t active and energetic the way we needed to be.”
Clark said that third quarter deficit was the kind of hole the team can’t get into, and expect to win.
“We can’t afford to start slow, we can’t afford to get behind and then try to make a push,” Clark said. “That’s going to come, it comes with experience, it comes with continuing to grow with one another. We just have to be consistent.”
Meanwhile, for Boucek, competing against New York requires the kind of energy the Storm had during its fourth-quarter push, and not the stagnant showing it had early on.
“If we had that energy to start the game,” she said, “it would have been a different game.”
Seattle now embarks on a four-game road trip in a span of seven days, starting with a rematch with Connecticut on Friday at 4 p.m. (PT).
- Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis did not play for the first time this season.
- Breanna Stewart’s 17 rebounds was a new Storm rookie record, and a league-wide single game high for the season.
- Seattle shot a season-low 22.7 percent from 3-point range (5-for-22).
- Seven turnovers was also a season-low for the Storm.
- In their Key Arena returns, Tanisha Wright finished with eight points and four assists, while Swin Cash had six points and four rebounds.
- Second chance points: New York 11, Seattle 4
- Fast break points: Seattle 13, New York 7
- Attendance: 6,240