KeyArena was buzzing with anticipation last night. Sue Bird played in her first game of the year, Jewell Loyd scored her 1,000th point, and the Seattle Storm defeated the Washington Mystics 81-71.
Seattle followed the lead of guard Loyd who continued her scoring onslaught by adding 26 points in the win.
“She has always been capable of exploding,” said Storm head coach Jenny Boucek about Loyd. “The biggest difference is you’re seeing consistency in her play. She’s consistent right now and we’re hoping that means she’s turned a corner.”
If Loyd has turned a corner it’s one most teams may not want to see her coming around.
Besides her points from last night, Loyd scored 25 and 27 respectively in her first two games of the season. Last night against the Mystics, she scored was her 1,000th career point.
Loyd knows she’s on point, “in the zone”, but doesn’t hesitate to give credit to team play for her success.
“I haven’t felt like this since high school. I feel good right now,” said Loyd. “My teammates do a great job of screening and talking to me on the floor and encouraging me. They make me look a lot better than I am, trust me.”
Whatever the reason Loyd is playing so well, she has good company to play with as the Storm works to become an even more cohesive unit.
With Bird back in the line-up, the “best guard ever to play the game”, according to Boucek, worked the floor and helped keep the team centered.
Seattle has had trouble with turnovers while Bird was out but that all changed last night as the Storm had 11, almost cutting in half the totals from previous games.
“Sue does a great job facilitating,” said Loyd. “Everyone has higher confidence when she’s on the floor.”
Bird added nine points and 10 assists while forward Crystal Langhorne put in 17 points for Seattle.
For the Mystics, center Elena Delle Donne lead the team with 14 points and forward Tayler Hill had 13.
The game was close in the first half and at the beginning of the second it looked like the Storm might be in some trouble as they quickly piled up fouls early to give Washington potential for points off of fouls the rest of the quarter.
But the Storm settled down and refocused on their game as they continued to play tight defense with less unnecessary contact and continued to get their shots to drop to end the third up by 15 points 69-54.
The Mystics didn’t have an answer and Boucek emptied her bench before the final buzzer to give everyone a few minutes of play and when it was all over Seattle had won their second game of the season.
We got stops,” said Boucek. “They only had 30 points in the second half and that’s what fuels our offense. The third quarter we got some defensive rhythm which leads to offensive rhythm.”
Seattle will look to continue to “fuel up” as they take on the New York Liberty at 7pm on Friday, May 26th at the KeyArena in Seattle.