Defense leads Storm to 76-73 win in Game 1

Loyd scores 26 points, Stewart adds 24 and Charles records a franchise-record 18 rebounds as Seattle wins Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals

LAS VEGAS – Jewel Loyd scored 26 points including 10 in the fourth quarter and Tina Charles pulled down a franchise-record 18 rebounds while adding 13 points and Seattle’s defense put down the league’s top-scoring team as the Storm cruised to a 76-73 victory over top-seeded Las Vegas, in Game 1 of the WNBA Semi-Finals on Sunday afternoon. at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

Loyd has continued his hot shooting lately, totaling a game-high 26 of 10 of 19 points while adding four assists and a steal. It comes just 14 days after Loyd hit a career-high 38 on 13-of-23 shooting in a 109-100 loss to the Aces to close out the regular season.

Seattle managed to outrun the Aces 37-34 thanks in large part to a franchise-best and personal-high in the playoffs of 18 by Charles. She also added 13 points in the game for her eighth playoff double-double of her career and first since the 2015 season.

Breanna Stewart continued to score in bunches, totaling 24 points to mark his seventh straight playoff game with 20+ points. That ties her for the 2nd-longest streak of all time, one shy of Cappie Pondexter’s record eight-game streak with 20+ points in 2010. Stewart also added six rebounds, three blocks, two assists and a steal .

Sue Bird posted her second straight game with double-digit assists, going 12 without committing a turnover. Sound 12e the game’s assist propelled her to No. 1 on the WNBA’s all-time assists list with 342, moving her ahead of Lindsey Whalen for the top spot. She also became the third player to record more than 12 assists without committing a turnover in a playoff game (Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, 8/30/1999, Diana Taurasi, 8/21/2018).

The budding rivalry between the Storm and the Aces has produced a number of exciting games this season and today’s game was no exception. Seattle took an early lead and led by no less than 12. The Aces didn’t go easy, taking their first lead of the game with 6:15 left in the fourth. The Aces would lead up to three, the last of which came with 3:44 to go, but the Storm regained the lead on a Loyd three-pointer with 1:45 left. The Aces quickly tied it on the next trip to the field to see Seattle regain the lead with a free throw with 1:16 remaining. The Storm would seal the deal with a jumping back from Loyd with 34.6 seconds left and play excellent defense in the stretch as Vegas missed two shots and committed a turnover on all three possessions in the final minute of the game. .

Seattle got off to a good start, using an early 7-0 streak to move up 13-4 at 6:38. But the Storm defense would hold Vegas scoreless for nearly six minutes, taking the lead to 15-4 before the Aces snapped the scoreless streak with a bucket at 2:36 and closed within seven before Seattle brings it down to 12. and held a 26-15 lead after one.

The Storm still held an 11-point lead with 2:30 remaining in the second quarter when they went cold, missing seven straight games on the court as Las Vegas used an 8-0 to take the Storm to 30- 27 with 3:46 before halftime. . After a two-minute round trip, Seattle cut the lead to nine on a comeback from Charles followed by a three-pointer from Loyd. The Storm closed the half hitting 5 of 6 and took a 43-36 lead until the break.

In the third, the Aces continued to close in, using an early 7-0 streak to shoot within two with 6:22 left in the period. The Storm would cut the lead back to six, then see the Aces almost two moments later. The last of those came courtesy of three consecutive fastbreak buckets by the Storm with Loyd earning a trip to the line for an old-fashioned three-point play to give Seattle a 58-51 lead with 2:09. to play.

The Storm led 60-57 as the teams raced to fourth and went up 64-59 at 7:13 on a pair of free throws from Stewart. Las Vegas responded with straight threes from Kelsey Plum and Riquana Williams to take their first lead of the game and set up the wild finish.

The win was Seattle’s first in Las Vegas since the 2018 season when the Storm beat the Aces in the first-ever meeting between the two in Vegas. It also marked Seattle’s fourth straight playoff win over the Aces after the Storm swept through Las Vegas in the 2020 WNBA Finals. Seattle also improved to 15-4 in playoff games with Stewart in the lineup and won 13 straight playoff games with Stewart on the court.

Both teams resume the series Wednesday night with Game 2 in Las Vegas. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Michelob Ultra Arena and the game can be seen on ESPN2.

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