From Seattle – Despite the fact that Jewell Lloyd had 26 points, and Seattle got the ball into the hands of its franchise icon on the last shot, the Storm (1-3) were unable to beat the Phoenix Mercury (2-1) at home on Saturday afternoon, 69-64.
Sue Bird got the ball for Seattle’s final shot down three, but it bounced off the front of the rim and the Storm fouled Diana Taurasi. Phoenix’s own GOAT sank both free throws to give us the final margin.
It was a heart breaking end to game that a saw both squads struggle on the offensive end. Neither squad shot over 40% from the field — Seattle hit 31.2% and the Mercury hit 37.1% — which led to a surprisingly fast game.
Taurasi finished the night with with 24 points thanks to the fact that she hit six of 12 from beyond the arc. She was one of three Phoenix players in double digits (Seattle only had Lloyd). It was the legendary guard who hit the three that ultimately decided the game with 1:01 left; the score was 67-61 at that point.
Lloyd would drain a three of her own on the Storm’s next possession. But that would be the last bucket they would score.
The fourth quarter was ultimately a battle between Taurasi and Lloyd as both would constantly respond to each other’s buckets. Sophie Cunningham also did a fair bit of damage with some crucial three pointers in the middle of the frame.
As for the third quarter, it started off slow as neither squad was able to buy a bucket to save it’s life. But a bucket by Bird, which was followed up with a Shey Peddy three, broke open the scoring.
Skylar Diggins-Smith and Diamond DeShields made their presence felt in the as they both drained threes whenever it felt like the Storm’s defense has found it’s rhythm. DeSheilds recorded Phoenix’s final bucket of the frame on a free throw; and Jantel Lavendar chipped in with a lay-up.
A missed three pointer at the buzzer by January sent both squads to the locker room with Phoenix up 34-32. That shot had been generated by a Magbegor blocked shot on the Mercury’s last possession of the half. Which itself has followed a made Lloyd layup with 31.2 left.
The Mercury were able to take a lead into the locker room thanks to Diggins-Smith first three pointer of the game. But their offense primarily ran through Taurasi who hit four threes in the first half (she was four of seven), the veteran had only one other bucket from the field.
Out of that timeout, January made her presence known with an 18-footer. But that was a quickly a followed up by a Shey Peddy bucket to make it 27-21 Mercury.
At that point Seattle’s offense found it’s gear as it reeled off the next five points to cut the lead down to one. This included a free throw from Briann January and a Lloyd layup after she drove the lane. Undortunatley thag didn’t last long as Diggins-Smith (again) hit a jumper to get the Mercury’s lead back up to three.
Phoenix started off the second quarter by scoring four of the first six buckets to make it 25-17 and force a Seattle timeout.
A Diggins-Smith driving layup was the final bucket of the first quarter and it came off of a smooth pass from Turner to make it 14-13, Mercury with 1:22 left in the frame. Lloyd went down on the Storm’s next defensive possession and was slow to get up; but she stayed in the game.
Neither offense was particularly smooth with their ball movement or shot selection in the quarter. Although Seattle’s offense definitely seemed to work better with Talbot on the court.
In fact, it was a Sophie Talbot three that responded to a DeShields three to tie the game back at 11. Magbegor’s layup, off of a beautiful feed from Bird, that gave the Storm a one point lead with 2:40 left in the first. Unfortunately, that would be the last bucket the Storm would score in the frame as the offense went stone cold at the end of the quarter.
The lack of clean ball movement in the first quarter led to some contested shots. Both teams heavily relied on the three early on, and this included the first bucket of the game — which was by Talbot.
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