Natasha Howard added 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five steals. But trailing 74-72 Breanna Stewart's three-point play sparked a 15-0 Seattle run to give the Storm the lead for good.
NEW YORK — Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm weren’t concerned when the New York Liberty made a run to take a lead early in the fourth quarter.
They knew it was only a matter of time before they went on their own burst to put the game away.
The WNBA-leading Storm scored 15 straight points to turn a two-point deficit into a 13-point lead and never looked back in a 96-80 victory over the Liberty on Monday at a camp-day game before 12,488 at Madison Square Garden.
“It was a grind-out game for us until that point,” said Stewart, who scored 32 points. “We felt like that run was coming. It wasn’t if it was coming, it was when.”
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Stewart’s three-point play started the game-changing run.
Natasha Howard added 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five steals for the Storm (22-7). She did a little bit of everything for Seattle during the spurt: a block, steal, basket and rebound. She also kept a few plays alive on both ends of the floor with her hustle.
“She’s so active. The stat line — that’s a crazy stat line,” Stewart said. “She’s in a good place. She knows what we expect from her.”
By the time Sugar Rodgers scored with slightly more than two minutes left, the game was out of reach for New York (7-21), which has dropped seven straight and 15 of its last 18 games.
“The effort was definitely there. Everyone was playing hard,” said Tina Charles, who scored 20 points. “We ran up against a really great team.”
Kia Nurse also scored 20 points and Amanda Zahui B had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Liberty. This is New York’s longest losing skid since dropping the final seven games of the 2013 season.
It was the Liberty’s second game at the Garden this season — both were day games aimed at kids. The Liberty moved all the other home games to the Westchester County Center, which seats about 2,500.
Buoyed by an energetic crowd that included owner James Dolan and Chelsea Clinton, New York got off to a strong start. The teams were tied at 44 at the half.
Seattle built a nine-point lead in the third quarter, but the Liberty rallied behind Zahui B to take a 74-72 lead before fading.
Jewell Loyd added 17 points and seven assists for the Storm.
Seattle had already clinched a playoff spot, while New York was eliminated from the postseason with its loss Saturday to Indiana. It’s the first time since 2014 the Liberty didn’t make the playoffs.