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Storm celebrate their 25th anniversary by knocking off Sun

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

SEATTLE — On a day when the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun combined for three, three-pointers through three quarters, Skylar Diggins-Smith's long-range bomb late in the fourth felt like an early knockout.

However, there was still about three minutes left and Seattle has a history of falling short against Connecticut, which had won six straight games in the series dating back to 2021.

But the Storm's defense had never been better this season and for good measure, Jordan Horston, who got her first start of the season, banked in a three in the waning seconds to seal Seattle's 72-61 win on Sunday.

With Sue Bird, Betty Lennox and several members of the Storm's 25th Anniversary team sitting courtside at Climate Pledge Arena, the Storm (10-6) snapped a two-game skid and captured an impressive win against the Sun (13-3), which came into the game with the WNBA's best record.

"Connecticut this year is not shooting a lot of threes, but to keep them below 62, I think is a record," said coach Noelle Quinn, noting Connecticut scored its second-fewest points since 2019. "That is what I envision because we're capable not only in our one-on-one matchups, but our team defense.

"We have a lot defensive acumen that we can use as we're playing all types of defensive matchups."

Jewell Loyd rebounded from a one-point performance in her last outing and led Seattle with 16 points on 5-for-15 shooting, five rebounds and five assists.

Diggins-Smith had 13 points, four rebounds and eight assists while Nneka Ogwumike added 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Ezi Magbegor chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds and Horston had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Slow starts plagued the Storm in the previous two games, which resulted in losses. Once again, Seattle fell behind early and was down 14-8 after the first quarter.

The Storm shot 22.2% from the field (4 of 18) and was 0 for 6 from three-point range in the opening period, but Connecticut was only slightly better while connecting on 6 of 18 shots (33.3%).

The Sun surged ahead 26-15 early in the second quarter and led 28-17 when the Storm seized momentum. Seattle finished the quarter with a 17-3 run that began with Loyd's driving layup with 4:55 minutes remaining.

The spurt included consecutive highlight plays, in which Horston snatched a rebound to start a fast break and connected with Magbegor for a transition layup.

"Jordan, this year, I've definitely seen a step up in her guard skills," Magbegor said. "She played more in the post for us last year, but just the way she's able to push the ball in transition. I know she loves scanning the floor, so I'm just ready for those outlet passes and she did a great job of that today."

On their ensuing possession, Loyd put the Storm on top for the first time at 30-28 with a couple of free throws and they went into the break with a 34-31 lead.

 

Connecticut regained the lead at 42-41 before Ogwumike drilled a three-pointer to put Seattle up for good 43-42 with 4:17 left in the third. Before her shot, the Storm were 1 for 12 on three-pointers.

Seattle outscored Connecticut 21-17 in the third quarter and took a 55-48 lead heading to the fourth.

DeWanna Bonner, who was held to nine points by Horston, dropped a three-pointer that trimmed the Sun's deficit to 59-55 with 5:08 left.

Minutes later, Diggins-Smith swiped a pass for her second steal and drained an open three-pointer before the shot clock expired that gave the Storm a 67-57 lead and forced a Connecticut timeout.

Then Horston sent the crowd of 9,935 into a frenzy with a dagger three that hit the glass and rattled in in the final minute.

The Storm connected on 4 of 16 three-pointers while the Sun were 2 of 14.

"I feel like I belong now," said Horston, a second-year forward. "Last year, I was just like wow, a deer in the headlights. But now I feel like I can make a mark on this league. But it was like an exciting feeling. It's my first start of the season. I had a big challenge with DeWanna. I took it personally. I was just excited. They see something in me. They believe in me and I'm doing what I need to do."

Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones each had 14 points for Connecticut, which shot 37.3% on field goals. It was the fewest points for a Seattle opponent since Aug. 31, 2023.

The Storm, starting a nine-game homestand, have three days to prepare for Thursday's sellout rematch against the Indiana Fever (7-11).

"We are well aware that we have an opportunity to put our imprint on our season right here because we don't have to travel," Quinn said. "We can stay in the comfort of our home, but it's not just about being comfortable, it's about having the mindset of taking advantage of an opportunity to play in front of our fans.

"To use that momentum and energy to drive us in these games. Having practice times to get better. ... We're well aware of this as a stretch that we can potentially do really good things."

Note

In addition to Bird and Lennox, the Storm 25th Anniversary players in attendance Sunday included: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Crystal Langhorne, Adia Barnes, Tina Thompson and Temeka Johnson. Former Storm coaches Brian Agler and Dan Hughes were also on hand.


(c)2024 The Seattle Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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