EVERETT — So far, so good for the Seattle Storm at Angel of the Winds Arena.
The reigning WNBA champions made it two-for-two in Everett on Tuesday night as they beat the Minnesota Lynx 84-77 before an announced crowd of 5,711.
Four Seattle players scored in double figures, led by Jewell Loyd’s 19, as the Storm (3-2) handed Minnesota (3-1) its first loss of the season.
Loyd and her backcourt partner Jordin Canada, who scored a career-high 17 to go along with seven assists, made the key plays down the stretch as the Storm scored eight straight after trailing 75-74 midway through the fourth quarter.
“They were tough,” Storm assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg said about Seattle’s guards down the stretch. “I thought in crunch time tonight we locked in defensively. We kept them in front of us, we did a great job on (Odyssey) Sims all night, she only had five points, and I thought down the stretch our defensive intensity was really the key.”
Alysha Clark added 16 points and Natasha Howard had 12 for Seattle.
Napheesa Collier scored 17 and Sylvia Fowles added 16 for the Lynx, who were the WNBA’s last remaining unbeaten team.
Tuesday’s victory improved Seattle’s record to 2-0 in Everett. The Storm, who are playing five home games at Angel of the Winds this season while the new Seattle arena is being built, beat Phoenix 77-68 in their season opener on May 25 in Everett. Their next game at Angel of the Winds is June 21 against Los Angeles.
Seattle was in control for much of the game and led 54-43 early in the third quarter when Howard picked up two quick fouls, giving her four and forcing the Storm’s top interior presence to the bench with 7 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the quarter. Minnesota immediately responded behind the play of Collier, who scored 10 points in the quarter as the Lynx caught back up, taking a 62-61 lead when Lexie Brown hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired late in the third.
It stayed close throughout the fourth quarter until Loyd and Canada took over down the stretch. Loyd hit a baseline jumper to give the Storm a 76-75 lead, Then Canada came up with a steal and breakaway to make it a three-point advantage. After a Minnesota timeout Seattle came up with two more stops, and a Loyd pull-up jumper and Mercedes Russell post move stretched the Storm’s lead to 82-75 with 2:08 remaining. The Lynx never again threatened.
“We know they’re a third-quarter team and they went on a run, that’s what good teams do,” Loyd said. “But we had composure down the stretch. I heard (Clark) after we scored come down the court and say, ‘Let’s go get a stop!’ I think that kind of triggered our focus.”
One big factor in Seattle’s victory was rebounding. The Lynx had a distinct size advantage, particularly through the chiseled 6-foot-6 Fowles, who was a handful down low early in the game. However, the Storm managed to outrebound the Minnesota 28-17.
“It’s crucial against them, Minnesota is a great rebounding team, they have a lot of players that crash the glass, some elite rebounders on their team, honestly,” Clark said. “To know we came out and outrebounded them, that was one of our focuses of the game. We knew we’d have to do that to have a chance to win. It says a lot about our team the focus we had in that area.”
The other factor was offensive execution. Yes, the Storm committed 20 turnovers, but when they didn’t they moved the ball around and created open shots for teammates. Seattle shot 59.3 percent from the floor, including 7-for-13 from 3-point range.
Seattle is, of course, without it’s two best players. Reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart is out for the season with an Achilles injury, and 11-time all-star Sue Bird underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week and is out indefinitely. … Minnesota got off to a 3-0 start despite personnel issues of its own. Star forward Maya Moore is taking the season off for personal reasons, five-time all-star guard Lindsey Whalen retired after a 15-year career, and eight-time all-star guard Seimone Augustus is out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery of her own.