What a game with an even better finish!
After the WNBA postponed Sunday’s Game 1 semifinals matchup between the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx due to inconclusive COVID-19 test results for players from the Storm, the league announced Tuesday that Game 1 would tip-off Tuesday night.
And it was worth the wait!
Game 1 was an exciting one that came down to the wire.
Thanks to a buzzer-beater from Storm forward Alysha Clark, Seattle came out victorious.
After exchanging buckets in the final two minutes, the Storm hit big shots and came up with a few timely stops.
Seattle defeated Minnesota, 88-86 Thursday night in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal series.
The Storm had a total of nine days off since their last game of the regular season heading into Game 1; and it showed in their slow start Tuesday.
But as Breanna Stewart put it postgame, “it took a little while to get the rust off. We just continued to stay with it, to grind with it.”
At the end of the first quarter, the Storm led 22-21.
A huge boost for Seattle was the return of Sue Bird (knee) and Breanna Stewart (foot), who both hadn’t played in a game in 13 days.
With their full roster back at full strength, Seattle took a 50-45 lead at the break.
Bird and Stewart quickly showed off their connection with Bird finding her starting forward behind the arc.
In the first half, Seattle shot 63 percent from long range as the Storm forced the Lynx forwards and centers to stretch their defense.
Minnesota was without starting center Sylvia Fowles who was out with a lingering calf injury.
Despite a sloppy third quarter, Seattle clamped down on the defensive end in the final minutes of the third.
In the final period, the Storm found themselves in an 8-0 hole to start the quarter.
But like Stewart said, her team was able to grind it out.
Stewart finished with a double-double, scoring 21 points, 12 of those points came in the third quarter, to go along with her 10 rebounds.
Bird dished out a game-high eight assists in the win.
But, it was Seattle’s role players who the Storm relied on late in the game. Besides Clark hitting the game-winner, guard Jewell Loyd helped Seattle in the scoring department in the first half and in crunch time. She notched 25 points on an efficient 8-of-9 shooting.
Loyd made a lay-in with 30.6 seconds remaining to put the Storm up two before Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier hit a lay-up of her own to tie the game at 86 with 14.8 seconds left.
Coach Kloppenburg praised Loyd’s scoring and her clutch play after Tuesday’s win.
“She’s been playing tremendous – really all year. Lately down the stretch, she’s had some unbelievable games… She’s really got a complete game right now. I’m glad we have her on our team so we don’t have to defend her,” Kloppenburg said with a smile.
Seattle and Minnesota will take the court Thursday night in Game 2 of their semifinals matchup.