After hitting the pole in the quarter-finals of the season, there’s enough evidence to suggest the storm’s attack is broken, and not even Breanna Stewart’s superlative effort can save them from yet another horrific night of shooting and stray coup.
Every now and then, Seattle manages to find the range offensively as it did while scoring 97 points in the inaugural regular season and Sunday when it drops 92.
But often Storm struggles to score, which proved to be lost to the Dallas Wings on Friday night during a 68-51 defeat at the 8023 streak at Climate Pledge Arena that snapped a four-game winning streak.
“Having a team like Dallas 68th and it just shows that our defense supports us,” said coach Noel Quinn. “We just have to find ways to complement our players. … Find ways to continue to carry out offensive strikes (and).
“Our defensive efforts were enough to win matches, we just have to weather this storm and find it on the other end of the (floor).”
Stewart, the leading scorer in the WNBA, was outstanding as he scored a game-high 27 points in 10-for-22 shootouts, eight rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.
However, Seattle failed to provide Stewart with adequate support and dropped to 5-4.
Jeel Lloyd finished with 13 points and no other Storm player had more than four points.
“We just miss the shots,” said Loyd, who made 5 of 16 attempts and was 2-8 on three-pointers. “It’s good shots. I don’t feel like anything is being forced or bad shots. It’s just finding the rhythm.
“I think we’ll be more consistent with that. … They just don’t get in. We’ll figure out how to get a better cadence whether it’s better to run calls or get into a flow, but we can fix that.”
Seattle fired 31.7% on field goals and 17.2% on three throws (5 of 29) while scoring the fewest points since a 45-point outing on June 9, 2015 against the Dallas Wings when the Tulsa Shocks were.
Notably, Storm is still without rookie players Sue Bird and Ezi Magbegor, who missed their third game in a row while in the WNBA’s health and safety protocols.
“This is not the time to hit the panic button,” Stewart said. “This is the time to find out (things). And that’s what we have to do. We have a whole team of vets. Obviously, hopefully (Bird and Magbigor) will come back at some point, but while they’re away we need to be better.
“I don’t know the last time we got two break points. Just two and we want to push the ball. There are a lot of things you can deal with tonight.”
For starters, Storm needs more production from their reserves who combined to score just 2 points in a 1 for 12 shot off the ground.
Quinn also lamented the lopsided 42-31 rebounding uneven favored Dallas as well as Seattle’s inability to score indoors and draw fouls. Storm converted 6 of his 8 free throws while the wingers were 7 for 11 on the line.
“I wish there was a huge insult to that,” Stewart said when asked what was wrong with this crime. “At the start of the match we were a little uncomfortable. I don’t think we were flowing the way we wanted. Then it was a stretch where we were getting good shots and good looks we were taking and he didn’t drop. Then it came back to a little bit of no flow and the rhythm we wanted.
All of this is self-made. Our defense was very good with 68 points, but when we just got over the 50-point hump we had a lot to work on.”
Dallas was far from offensive excitement while shooting 39.4%, but the flanks connected for 9 of 27 three-pointers. Alisha Gray scored 18 points, Eric Ogunpoel 16 and Sato Sabali 11 for Dallas, who improved 6-4.
Ogunbowale provided the game’s biggest highlight when she beat the shot clock with a 3 long-range shot that lifted the wings 46-13 midway through the third inning. The 13-point lead was insurmountable given Seattle’s offensive struggles.
Gabi Williams and Storm tied up Ogunboal for most of the night, but Seattle struggled to contain Sabali and Thornton, who combined 16 points and more than half of Dallas points before the break.
The wings took control early and raced 21-13 in the first quarter as Storm came out from distance and made 1 of 9 3-pointers in the period.
Seattle never exploded, but the Storm was back in the game thanks to an intense defensive effort that had the wings shot 33.3% while edging out Dallas 14-10 in the quarter.
Storm was down 31-27 in the first half and the game waned in the third quarter when it was outrun by the wings 20-12 to lead 51-39 in the fourth.
Seattle never came close the rest of the way.
Both teams were forced to act offensively during a match marked by numerous physical confrontations, massive fouls and heated conversations with the referees.
Late in a second, Brian Jan had long discussions with officials Cheryl Flores and Billy Smith about a lack of contact in which the storm guard felt impeded on a trip to the basket.
During the sequence, Gray passes a wrong pass from Russell to steal and foul at the other end, angering January, the Storm Seat and the partisan crowd.
Storm also took hold when Stewart unintentionally shot Kayla Thornton’s nose and fouled the Dallas forward with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Dallas players barked at officials early in Season 4 when Epiphany Prince climbed in front of Marina Mabry during a mid-range collision that left Wings sniper on the ground.
“There will always be calls that we want whether it’s fake or real or whatever the case may be,” Stewart said. “With us, I don’t think we’ve ever lost our temper or got distracted by the referees. But if they don’t call things early, it just means we need to be more aggressive and finish stronger. We control what we can control and that’s really it. The referees didn’t make us lose.” This match. We lost this match.”
– Mercedes Russell shared fifth on her debut of the season and finished with two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench. She missed her first eight games due to an undisclosed basketball injury.
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