BRADENTON, Fla. — Breanna Stewart and an unselfish offense have the Seattle Storm on the verge of another W.N.B.A. championship.
Stewart scored 22 points to lead five Storm players in double figures in a 104-91 victory over the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday in Game 2 of the best-of-five finals. The Storm will try to win their second title in three years on Tuesday night.
“This is our moment to really finish the series and take home the championship,” Stewart said.
The Storm, champions in 2004, 2010 and 2018, know it won’t be easy to close out the series.
“Stay in the moment. They are good. The score doesn’t indicate it,” said Sue Bird, who ran the show on all three of the Storm’s titles.
Two days after she set the W.N.B.A. finals and playoffs record with 16 assists, Bird, 39, had 10 to go along with 16 points. The team had 33 assists to set a W.N.B.A. championship-round record.
“Having high assists isn’t abnormal for us,” said Alysha Clark, who added 21 points. “Thirty-three is amazing. Goes to show the unselfishness of everyone on the floor and the confidence we have in one another. Pass up a good shot to get a great shot. When you do those things, 33 assists happen. Wow.”
Natasha Howard also had 21 and Jordin Canada added 10 off the bench to go along with Stewart, Bird and Clark’s double-digit efforts.
“Our performance today was better than Game 1 having a balanced approach,” Stewart said.
The Storm took over after Las Vegas had rallied from a 13-point deficit in the first half to take a 65-64 lead with 3 minutes 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Seattle scored 22 of the next 30 points over the next six minutes to go up double-digits again with Jewell Loyd ending the burst with a 3-pointer that made it 86-73 with just under seven minutes left.
A’ja Wilson had 20 points to lead Las Vegas, while Angel McCoughtry and Emma Cannon added 17 each. Cannon provided a spark off the bench for the Aces, who were missing the sixth woman of the year, Dearica Hamby, with a knee injury. The Aces had 15 turnovers to the dismay of Coach Bill Laimbeer.
“We’re our own worst enemies sometimes,” he said. “Our turnovers hurt us badly. They are a fine basketball team, and you can’t make those type of blunders against them.”
Laimbeer’s team faced two elimination games against Connecticut in the semifinals before winning both to reach the championship round.
“Our focus is winning one game,” he said.
Trailing by 6 at the half, Las Vegas made a run to take a 53-52 lead on Kayla McBride’s 3-pointer early in the third quarter. The Aces led, 65-64, with 3:22 left in the period before the Storm closed with an 11-3 burst.
Seattle held a 48-42 halftime lead behind 12 points from Stewart and Clark. The Storm, who had 17 assists on their 18 baskets, built the lead to 13 before Las Vegas rallied to the 6-point halftime deficit.
Source: Basketball - nytimes.com