Breanna Stewart made her season debut and helped the Storm to an 87-82 victory over Indiana in Seattle’s home opener. Jewell Loyd scored 27 points for the Storm, giving her a 52-point weekend.
Despite playing her second game in consecutive days, Jewell Loyd carried the Storm with another sensational offensive performance before Breanna Stewart took over near the end and led the way in an 87-82 WNBA victory over Indiana in Sunday’s home opener.
Loyd scored 27 points through 3½ quarters and staked Seattle to a 10-point lead with 7:21 left.
But the Fever erased its deficit with 19-8 spurt over the next six minutes to take a one-point lead at the 1:54 mark.
Washington @ Storm, 4 p.m., JOEtv
That’s when Stewart, who finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, took over and made the game’s biggest plays.
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Down 77-76, the 6-foot-4 forward collected an offensive rebound before making a three-pointer from the top of the key to put Seattle back on top 79-77.
On the next offensive possession, Stewart connected on a pass to Crystal Langhorne — who converted a layup to pad the lead.
And at the other end, Stewart swatted Briann January’s short jumper with 24.9 seconds left that brought the 7,969 fans at KeyArena to their feet and snuffed out Indiana’s attempt for a comeback.
“That’s what makes her so special,” Storm coach Jenny Boucek said of Stewart. “Literally, she did everything. Not only did she have the skill and the instincts, but she has that ‘It’ factor of the great champions to know it’s their time.
“They can rise. That’s what separates stars. They can feel it when it’s their time and they’re willing and able to rise to the occasion. And she can do it in a lot of different ways.”
Stewart, who sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in January while playing in China, played 26:41 and started slowly in her first game of the season.
She was hampered by foul trouble in the first quarter and made her first basket — a midrange jumper — with 6:45 to go in the second.
With Stewart struggling to find an offensive groove, Langhorne (17 points on 7-for-8 shooting) and backup guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (12 points on 3-for-4 shooting) picked up the slack offensively.
So did Loyd, who scored nine points in the third quarter and 17 in the second half. The 5-10, third-year guard is tied for second in the WNBA with a 26.0 scoring average.
“She’s just really stepped up,” Stewart said. “She had that push in the third quarter when she went off. It helps take us over the edge when she plays like that. They didn’t know what to do.”
The Storm (1-1) has needed Loyd to be dominant early in the season without star point guard Sue Bird, who missed her second straight game while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on her left knee.
Without the nine-time All-Star, Seattle committed 24 turnovers in Saturday’s 78-68 loss at Los Angeles and 20 on Sunday, which Indiana converted into 25 points that allowed it to stay close.
Shenise Johnson scored 24 points and January had 23 for the Fever (0-1).
Bird is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Washington.