Breanna Stewart did almost anything she wanted against an outmatched Indiana Fever opponent that was helpless to stop her. 

The Storm star feasted at the free-throw line while connecting on 10 of 12 shots and finished with a game-high 20 points to lead Seattle to a 73-57 victory in front of 8,565 at Climate Pledge Arena. 

“Any time we can get to the free-throw line, that helps us,” said Stewart, who leads the WNBA with 6.1 free-throw attempts per game. “That means we’re being the aggressors and that means we’re attacking. I was very upset I missed my two free throws, but happy to have more. Just putting the pressure on the defense instead of settling and giving them a jump shot.” 

Stewart and Seattle’s smothering defense overwhelmed a perpetually rebuilding Indiana team with six rookies and an interim coach that came into Friday’s game riding a three-game losing streak. 

The Storm (13-7) dominated the Fever, which resides at the bottom of the standings at 5-17, in nearly every statistical category. 

Seattle finished with more rebounds (34 to 28), assists (22 to 13), blocks (five to two), fast break points (17 to six) and points in the paint (30 to 28). 

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“We’ll take it,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said. “I thought our defensive effort was great. I thought we did an excellent job on Kelsey Mitchell holding her to three points. The way in which we started the game was a good indicator to  where we can be as a unit. Kind of had a lull during the game, but just excited to win at home.” 

Before the game, Quinn challenged Seattle to avoid a letdown after Wednesday’s double-digit victory against the league-leading Las Vegas Aces. 

“The opponent is different, but the principles don’t change in what we do,” Quinn said. “The standard doesn’t change in what we want to do. Our energy level and attentiveness to detail doesn’t change. 

“Not (disrespecting) your opponent and understanding every single night anyone is capable of getting beat no matter what records show and indicate. It’s a matter of our mindset is a level of competitiveness and energy and all of those things that matter when you have to play teams who on paper aren’t at the level that we’re supposed to be at.” 

Quinn referenced the Storm’s flat effort last Saturday that largely contributed to an 85-77 upset loss to a Los Angeles Sparks team that had been struggling. 

“Just didn’t quite execute,” Quinn said. “Just didn’t have the intensity and the focus and energy level. We can’t get bored with being great and the little details in everything that matters when it comes to winning games in this league.” 

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Stewart made sure the Storm finished their four-game homestand with a victory. 

The 6-foot-4 forward rebounded from a poor shooting performance in her previous outing and exploited her matchup against Fever rookie NaLyssa Smith. 

Stewart finished with six rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks in 24 minutes. But she did most of her damage at the line. 

“It was one of our goals,” Quinn said about Stewart’s free-throw attempts. “We know that Indiana fouls the most in the league. We wanted to take more FTs than Indiana. Stewie was very aggressive. Honestly, she gets beat up a lot getting to her spots on the block. I thought she had great physicality and poise to get into the lane and get to the free-throw line.” 

Both teams attempted 23 free throws, but Seattle converted 17 and Indiana made 11. 

Stewart scored 18 points in the first half, including 11 in the second quarter, when the Storm outscored the Fever 27-16 and took control of the game.  

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Seattle held Indiana to 29.4% shooting while converting 50% at the half for a 46-27 lead. 

“We hadn’t been in that situation in a long time this season,” Quinn said in reference to the Storm’s substantial halftime lead. “(I told them) to have great intensity about ourselves. Just to continue to focus them on not relaxing.” 

The Storm stretched their lead to 27 points (63-36) when Tina Charles sank a jumper with 1:41 left in the third quarter. 

Williams, who scored seven of her 10 points in the third, provided key plays on both ends of the court. She also had four rebounds, two steals and held Indiana leading scorer Mitchell to a season-low three points. 

“I think we were more focused today on our schemes and more into our scout,” Williams said. “Usually we have a second guess or a miscommunication and I didn’t see that very much today. Everyone was kind of on a string. We were all following. I heard us talking a lot today. That’s a good sign for us. That’s a good sign for our chemistry and our trusting each other. I know when I first got here I felt myself looking around and now I feel fully like we’re all on the same page.” 

Indiana scored a season low in points and it was the fewest for a Storm opponent since Aug. 8, 2019. 

Queen Egbo had a team-high 14 points for the Fever. 

“We had a game plan in what we wanted to do,” Stewart said. “Really put pressure on Kelsey Mitchell because she’s such a prolific scorer and try to get it out of her hands and into somebody else’s and we were there on rotations a lot.” 

Notes

  • Tina Charles made a three-pointer from the top of the key with 2:45 left in the second quarter to move into fourth place on the WNBA all-time scoring list. She has (6,902) points and trails Diana Taurasi (9,516), Tina Thompson (7,488) and Tamika Catchings (7,380). 
  • WNBA All-Star Game captains Stewart and Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson will select their respective rosters at noon Saturday during ESPN’s broadcast of the WNBA All-Star Team Selection Special. First, they’ll choose from a pool of six starters — Sue Bird and Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles are the other starters and co-captains — before divvying up the 12 reserves. By virtue of finishing with the most fan votes, Wilson will make the first pick. 

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