During Jewell Loyd’s postgame news conference after she won All-Star Game MVP, she mentioned how hard she worked this offseason knowing this year would be different with the departure of key players — especially on the offensive end. Knowing she had to step up and be a leader.
She did just that Tuesday even though the Storm ended up losing to the New York Liberty, 86-82, for their franchise-worst 10th loss in a row.
Coming off her two lowest-scoring games of the season, Loyd needed to spark that veteran-leadership role she mentioned working toward more to keep stride with an impressive Liberty squad.
Relatively keeping the same narrative in their last matchup against the Liberty, losing again by four points, the Storm dominated the fast-paced tempo that started from tip-off.
Until the third quarter began and a second-half meltdown ensued, with the Storm being outscored and out-rebounded while giving up turnovers and failing to convert on the offensive end, which they had been able to do successfully in the first two quarters.
Seattle’s offense slowly shifted to being stagnant. Not following their routine from earlier in the game of dribble drives and converting on three-point shots, the Storm relied mostly on free-throw attempts as their only source of scoring.
The game saw another change in coach Noelle Quinn’s starting five, with guard Sami Whitcomb taking the spot of Ivana Dojkic. Whitcomb made her first appearance in the starting lineup since the Storm’s fifth game of the season on June 9 against the Washington Mystics.
Loyd started the Storm’s 23rd game with what you would expect from the WNBA’s leading scorer. Two quick three-pointers from the All-Star gave Seattle an 8-0 lead. Loyd had 15 points in the first quarter, eclipsing the 12 total points she had in each of the Storm’s previous two games.
Loyd finished with 32 points on 9-of-23 shooting.
The Storm led 26-21 at the end of the first 10 minutes which was their first lead at the end of a first quarter since their last win, on June 24 against the Phoenix Mercury.
The Storm capped a 9-0 run late in the second quarter when Loyd came off a screen from Ezi Magbegor at the top of the key and knocked down her fourth three-pointer for a 37-30 lead.
Magbegor finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Whitcomb had 11 points.
New York’s Sabrina Ionescu had a triple-double with 12 points, 12, assists and 12 rebounds. Former Storm forward Breanna Stewart had 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Seattle’s biggest lead of 18 dropped to a mere six points after a four-minute scoring drought and a 17-5 Liberty run ending the third quarter.
A Marine Johannes layup tied the game at 70, which was the Liberty’s first moment not trailing since the 6:15 minute mark in the second quarter.
New York grabbed its first lead, 74-72, off a Stewart fadeaway jump shot.
Seattle began its three-game trip against New York and faces Chicago and Indiana later this week.
New York completed a season sweep, 4-0, of the Storm.