When the Storm needed her the most, Breanna Stewart delivered.
Seattle was in trouble late in the second period and suddenly unable to create anything on the offensive end, which allowed the Dallas Wings to cut their 13-point deficit to four.
However, Stewart slammed the door shut with a personal 11-0 run to end the first half and the Storm had little difficulty the rest of way while cruising to its seventh straight win, an 83-65 victory Friday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
It’s the longest winning streak for Seattle (9-1) since 2010.
“We were struggling a little bit trying to find that next gear as far as the pace and the tempo and what we wanted to do,” Stewart said during a postgame Zoom call. “[I was] running the floor and knocking down shots. My teammates found me and that’s really it.”
Stewart made it look as simple as it sounds after connecting on 9 of 12 field goals, including two three-pointers for 21 points and six rebounds in just three periods.
The two-time WNBA All-Star bounced back nicely from an unusual off shooting night Wednesday when she tallied just seven points on 1-for-5 shooting and failed to reach double-digit scoring the first time this season.
“She’s a team player who is going to try to do whatever it takes to win,” coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “Tonight she got some open looks and knocked them down.”
Stewart had everything working against a hapless Dallas team. She drained pull-up jumpers, post-up baby hooks, spot-up three-pointers and dribble-drive layups.
“You never worry about her,” Kloppenburg said. “She’s such a great competitor. You know she’s always going to be a force out there and an impactful player.”
On most nights, the Storm demolishes opponents with a lethal perimeter assault and entered the game leading the league with a 38.5 three-point shooting percentage.
Seattle set a franchise record and tied the WNBA record with 18 three-pointers during Wednesday’s 100-63 blowout win over Atlanta.
This time, the Storm made an adjustment and was intent on pounding the ball inside against a depleted Dallas team that played without standout rookie forward Satou Sabally.
“The game plan was to attack the bigs,” Stewart said. “Obviously, open shots we’re going to take them and continue to be aggressive. … On the block, I felt like I know the double was coming, but it was questionable I guess when they were coming and really making an aggressive move and getting a shot at the rim.”
Seattle outscored Dallas 40-26 in the paint while converting 20 of 38 shots inside. The Storm, which finished with more rebounds (46 to 37), converted a season-low-tying five three-pointers on 18 attempts.
“Some games we’re going to be hot from three like we were the last game, and some games we aren’t,” said Alysha Clark, who extended her streak of seven straight games scoring in double figures and finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. “And when we aren’t we’re able to rely on our [inside] game. That’s something that I think is going to help going down the stretch because if you rely one thing it’s going to be harder to win games that way.”
Seattle, which led from start to finish, outscored Dallas 19-12 in the third to take a 63-43 lead into the fourth. The Wings never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
In back-to-back games, Seattle has held an opponent to 65 or fewer points and less than 37% shooting from the floor. Dallas converted 32.4%t on field goals.
Second-year guard Arike Ogunbowale scored a game-high 22 points, but the Storm held the rest of the Wings in check. Marna Mabrey and Allisha Gray each had 13 points for Dallas (3-7), which lost its third straight game.
“We know that if we’re not going to score, then you’re not going to score either,” said Jewell Loyd, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
For the second straight game, most of the Storm starters sat on the sideline in the fourth. Clark is the only one who logged more than 24 minutes.
“It’s a nice luxury if you get a lead like that on a team,” Kloppenburg said. “We can get [the starters] a lot of rest and get our bench working together.
“It’s going to be really beneficial for us going through this schedule the way it is.”
Seattle, which plays Connecticut (4-6) at noon Sunday, is in the middle of a 10-games-in-19-days stretch.
— Storm backup point guard Epiphanny Prince returned to IMG Academy and will be available for Sunday’s game. The 11-year veteran appeared in the first four games before leaving the WNBA bubble for personal reasons.