Seattle, Wash. – Through her first 13 WNBA starts, Breanna Stewart hadn’t made more than three 3-pointers in a game, and had just 10 for the year.
The 21-year old was shooting just 21 percent from behind the arc, well below her college averages.
On Friday night against Connecticut, she hit one 20 seconds in.
90 seconds later, another.
Then three more, all without a miss.
“The first one went in, and then the second one went in, and then a few of them were contested shots, but they still went in,” said Stewart, who entered the night 2-for-her-last-21 from behind the arc. “I think it’s just after you see yourself making some shots you have the confidence to continue that.”
It was that kind of night for both the UConn product and her team, as the Storm rode a piping-hot first-half shooting performance to a 98-81 victory over the Sun at KeyArena.
The Storm (5-9) scored the game’s first 10 points, and 17 of the first 19 to take a lead that would remain double digits for the rest of the night.
Seattle shot 77 percent in the first quarter, and 70 percent for the half, to lead by as many as 23 before taking a 19-point lead into the break.
Connecticut (3-11) was able to whittle the deficit down to 11 in the final minutes of the third quarter, with the Storm halting the Sun run and stretching the advantage out to a game-high 24 with four minutes to play.
“In this league, you know that that’s going to happen,” Bird said of the Connecticut run. “You know teams are going to make one push, maybe two, but it’s going to come at some point, and we’ve had some situations this year, where we’ve been up and we’ve let teams come back in, so we really wanted to focus on that. Sometimes it seems like not a big deal, it’s just a steal and a lay up, but it’s momentum.”
Stewart finished the night with a season/career-high 29 points (and a game-high nine rebounds), as one of four Storm players in double-figures. Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd both had 19 points, while Crystal Langhorne had 15.
The Storm ended the game shooting just over 60 percent from the field, their best performance of the year, while notching a season-high 98 points.
That wasn’t a bad result for a team that focused solely on defense in practice throughout the week.
“It’s ironic that we scored 98 points,” said coach Jenny Boucek, “because we did literally not work on offense.”
Meanwhile, Seattle held Connecticut to just 38 percent shooting on the night, their worst night from the field since a streak of cold shooting to start the season, one that saw the Sun shoot under 40 percent in three of its first four games.
But while Boucek was impressed with her team’s scoring punch, she specifically mentioned rebounding as an element that needs more work. Seattle allowed 20 second chance points on the night, and was out-rebounded 34-to-29 (15-to-2 on the offensive glass).
“I think we still have a ways to go defensively,” she said. “But I do think we took some steps in the right direction and we hope to build on that.”
Seattle is back at Key Arena on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to take on the Atlanta Dream.
- Blake Dietrick scored her first points of the year, making a pair of free-throws in the game’s final moments. “It was awesome. [I’m] not happy about the turnover, but I was happy to get to the line and knock them down. I was a little nervous, but it was good.”
- Friday was “Pride Tipoff” Night at Key Arena, with the team selling #OrlandoUnited t-shirts to benefit the OneOrlando Fund. All 500 shirts — offered for a $10 minimum donation — were sold, along with 49 shirts autographed by the entire team, which sold for $100 each.
- Seattle now leads the season series 2-to-1, with each team winning at home. Both Bird and Stewart mentioned their frustration with the result in Uncasville, a 77-76 defeat. “We, in my mind, kind of pissed that one away,” Bird said. “You give them credit, they made plays when they needed to on their home court, but that was one that we should have won.”
- 56 first-half points was the most Seattle has scored in the first 20 minutes this season.
- Attendance: 6,568