Nine is fine: Clark’s hot hand helps Seattle extend winning streak to four

Alysha Clark led the Storm with 22 points on 9-10 shooting. Photo via NBAE/Getty Images.
Alysha Clark led the Storm with 22 points on 9-10 shooting. Photo via NBAE/Getty Images.

Seattle – Nearing the mid-point of the fourth quarter, Alysha Clark missed a three-pointer from the baseline.

It wouldn’t be notable in itself, but she had made the nine shots that came before it.

The 29-year old forward finished with 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting — after scoring 20 combined in her first four games — as the Storm cruised to its fourth consecutive victory, beating Indiana 94-70 at KeyArena on Sunday.

Clark was one of four Seattle (4-1) players to finish in double figures, along with Jewell Loyd, who had 13, and Breanna Stewart and Crystal Langhorne, who each finished with 12. Tiffany Mitchell led the Fever (2-3) with 13 points, followed by Candice Dupree’s 11 and 10 from Natalie Achonwa.

Seattle took an early lead on Sunday — with 13 of the game’s first 17 points — and had a four-point edge after 10 minutes, paced by Clark’s 12.

“We let them get off to a really comfortable start, specifically Clark,” said Indiana head coach Pokey Chatman. “Then you give that momentum to a team and then it carries throughout.”

That hot start indeed carried into the second quarter, as Seattle went on a 9-0 run, holding the Fever scoreless for the first four-plus minutes. A lay-up from Langhorne with just over two minutes in the half put Seattle up by double-digits for good.

Seattle took a 13-point lead into the break, outscored the Fever by nine in the third quarter, and led by as many as 28 in the fourth. The Storm finished the game 35-of-57 from the field (61 percent) and 8-of-18 from 3-point range, as all 11 players in uniform scored for Seattle.

“Our defense was pretty bad today,” Dupree said. “It was non-existent. We gave up entirely too many points.”

That was a sentiment echoed by Chatman.

“We’re not beating anybody giving up 94 points,” she said. “Maybe once in a blue moon, but the bottom line is get stops, be consistent, we can’t be a comeback team.”

But the main story of the afternoon was Clark, and her franchise-record shooting streak. Not that she was paying attention to the streak as it happened.

“You don’t think about the numbers as a player,” she said. “You’re just trying to play and take what the defense gives you. What was different for me tonight was that I was actually finishing. II take pride in being an efficient player. In the first few games I wasn’t being very efficient. I was frustrated with myself in that. To be able to go out, finish and get my feel back was good.”

And though Clark led the scoring, Storm head coach Jenny Boucek had praise for her “humble superstars,” as Stewart, Loyd, and Sue Bird combined for 18 assists.

“They were facilitators in a lot of ways tonight and that says a lot about them,” she said. “They didn’t need to score big points and most stars do. They have bought into and are leading the way with that teamwork.”

At 4-1, the Storm is three games over .500 for the first time since 2011. Seattle will try to extend its winning streak to five in the final game of its homestand on Saturday against Minnesota at 6 p.m.

“Those of us who have been here awhile know that KeyArena can be a very magical place,” Boucek said. “There’s a special relationship between our fans, this place and our team that has weaned over the years. We fully intend on doing our part to get that back, bringing this place to life and protect it. We want to make it a place that nobody wants to come in and play against us here. We’re taking a lot of pride in reestablishing that. We’ve had it in the past but we want to reestablish that.”

Indiana is at Dallas on Tuesday night, before starting a three-game homestand that concludes with a rematch with the Storm on June 9.

Dribbles:

  • Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis did not play for Seattle, after suffering a right knee bruise in the first quarter of Friday’s game against New York.
  • Seattle is now 2-0 against the Fever this season, winning 87-82 in the first matchup of the two teams on May 14.
  • Both of Seattle’s 2017 draft picks made their first field goals in the WNBA. Syracuse product Alexis Peterson finished with five points, while Lanay Montgomery out of West Virginia had two.
  • Jazmon Gwathmey made her Indiana debut, and finished with six points in 11 minutes of action.
  • Attendance: 4,722