Breanna Stewart and Arike Ogunbowale went back and forth Saturday night at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, exchanging big baskets in a thrilling, old-fashioned Wild West shootout.
Stewart finished with 36 points – two shy of her career high – and added 11 rebounds, five blocks and three assists in a record-breaking performance.
However, the Storm’s 100-97 overtime victory over Dallas wasn’t decided until Ogunbowale missed a three-point attempt with 4.9 seconds left and Moriah Jefferson’s hurried game-tying attempt fell harmlessly as time ran out on the Wings.
“It was shots on both sides,” said Stewart, who converted 13 of 28 field-goal attempts and was 9 of 11 on free throws. “I felt like especially in the fourth quarter and into overtime it was so back and forth. Both teams playing good ‘D,’ but people are making better shots.
“It’s one of those games. A good game that you like to be on the winning side of things.”
It also was a historic outing for Stewart, who became the fourth-fastest player in WNBA history to reach the 2,500-point plateau.
The 26-year-old, who has 2,516 points in 124 games, also passed former Storm standout Lauren Jackson and became the fastest player in league history with at least 2,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.
“To be honest, it was something that I really wasn’t aware of,” Stewart said about her latest milestone during a Zoom interview. “But to be in the company of LJ at any time is something that’s a huge, huge honor. The most important thing tonight was getting that win. Getting that road win and just grinding it out.”
The Storm needed every point from Stewart as well as late-game heroics from Jewell Loyd and Jordin Canada to pull away from Dallas.
Those two hit the two biggest baskets in the final 20 seconds of regulation, which forced overtime and saved Seattle the embarrassment of blowing a nine-point lead (76-67) with 5:55 left in the fourth quarter.
After Dallas used an 18-5 run to take an 85-81 lead, the situation appeared dire when Seattle called time out with 20.6 seconds left.
On the sideline, coach Dan Hughes drew up a quick-hitting play for Loyd, who curled around a Mercedes Russell screen, darted to the corner and buried an off-balance three-pointer to bring the Storm within a point (85-84) with 19.7 seconds remaining.
“I practice that shot daily,” said Loyd, who delivered another all-around brilliant performance with a season-high 25 points on 10-for-22 shooting, eight rebounds and a team-high six assists. “It might have looked like chaos, but that felt good the moment I got caught it. Execution down the stretch. We’ve been in a lot of close games.
“Jordin did a great job of getting the pass to me and Cedes set a great screen. … To me, it was a normal practice shot that I take every game.”
On the ensuing possession, Dallas made one of two free throws.
Following another Seattle timeout, Canada, who tallied 14 points and five assists off the bench, knotted the score at 86-86 with a driving floater in the lane that bounced off the back of the rim and fell in with 4.4 seconds left in regulation.
The Storm, which played its first overtime game in three years, had difficulty pulling away from the Wings and neither team led by more than three points in the extra period.
Marina Mabrey, who had 26 points and six three-pointers, drained a deep three that gave Dallas (1-1) a 93-90 lead with 3:09 left.
That’s when Stewart took over and repeatedly torched the Wings with slashing cuts to the basket for layups and short jumpers.
“There was a point in the fourth where I kind of wasn’t being my best,” said Stewart, lamenting the Storm’s blowing a nine-point lead. “In overtime, I wanted to continue to be aggressive and just know that I was going to get whatever I wanted. And obviously, my teammates trusted me to finish plays.”
Stewart, who scored eight of Seattle’s 14 points in the extra period, put the Storm (3-1) up for good with a pair of free throws for a 98-97 lead with 30.5 seconds left.
At the other end, Canada’s tight defense on Ogunbowale forced an offensive foul on the Dallas star. Canada then gave Seattle a little bit of breathing room with two more free throws.
Still, Dallas had 12.9 seconds to tie and Ogunbowale, the WNBA’s leading scorer last year who had 28 points on 10-for-23 shooting from the field Saturday.
However, Canada drew the defensive assignment of defending Ogunbowale in the fourth quarter and overtime.
And when it mattered most, Canada forced Ogunbowale into an errant 27-footer that hit the side of the backboard.
“A great scorer like Arike, you want to make it a little tough,” Loyd said. “Make her work a little bit harder on her shots and that’s what Jordin did tonight. Jordin is known for her defense. She’s known to be a pest. She was huge down the stretch.”
It was the fourth game in eight days for the Storm (3-1) and the end of a two-game road trip, which began with Thursday’s 97-83 comeback win when Seattle overcame a 19-point deficit.
“It’s a learning process for us,” Loyd said. “We needed it. For us having a new team and new pieces and trying to figure who we are and our identity, these are the games that you want to be in early. This is one way we get closer as teammates is through all this adversity.”
The Storm returns home for five consecutive games – its longest homestand of the season – starting Tuesday against Connecticut.
“We’re happy to get these wins, but when we get back to Seattle we have a lot that we need to work on and really taking advantage of practice days,” Stewart said. “We have a little bit of a stretch where it’s not every other day so I’m looking forward to getting back to work and tweaking some things a little bit.”
— The Storm improved to 3-0 in the Commissioner Cup standings and leads Western Conference teams.