EVERETT – Only Jewell Loyd. Again. With an improbable game-winning three-pointer.
Loyd is starting to make a habit of making clutch shots.
Last year, the Storm guard knocked off the Los Angeles Sparks with a three from the corner with just 0.8 seconds left.
Friday night, the situation was nearly identical.
The Storm and Dallas Wings were tied in overtime with 0.8 seconds left before Loyd sprinted to the top of the circle and lofted a rainbow 27-footer over two defenders that fell perfectly in the net for a spine-tingling 105-102 victory at Angel of the Winds Arena.
“I looked at the clock,” Loyd said. “And I was like, we have time. I remember that my shooting coach always tells me to set your feet. Once you set your feet, you’ll make shots. I just knew I had to get both feet down. (Breanna Stewart) set a good screen. Noey (coach Noelle Quinn) drew up a great play. I just set my feet and got a normal shot off.”
For the second time in a week, two of the WNBA’s highest-scoring teams staged a free-flowing shootout that went beyond 40 minutes.
In their first matchup, Seattle escaped Dallas with a thrilling 100-97 overtime road victory.
During the rematch Friday night, both teams went back and forth for 45 minutes until Loyd capped the fireworks with one of the biggest shots of her career.
It was a spectacular ending for the Storm, which squandered a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter and surrendered a long jumper at the end of regulation, which forced overtime.
“Overall just a good team effort,” Quinn said. “A strong win. A gutsy win. Just super proud of the team.”
The score was knotted at 82-82 when Seattle ripped off 10 consecutive points for a 92-82 lead.
However, Dallas didn’t go away and answered with a 12-2 run to tie it up 94-94 in the final minute.
That’s when Loyd and Stewart executed a flawless pick-n-roll in which Loyd found Stewart cutting to the rim for a layup and a 96-94 lead with 19.1 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Satou Sabally drained a long jumper at the top of the key over Stewart with 7.9 seconds remaining that was originally deemed a three-pointer. After reviewing the replay, game officials ruled it a two that tied the score at 96-96.
“We just couldn’t execute down the stretch,” said Stewart, who had a short jumper blocked with 4.6 seconds left in the fourth. “We struggled with that a little bit. The biggest thing was we couldn’t get back in transition. We missed some shots and they got out running on us.”
In overtime, neither team led by more than two points until the end.
Tied at 102-102 with just 0.8 seconds left, Quinn drew up a play on the sideline for Loyd or Sue Bird.
“What was supposed to happen happened,” Quinn said laughing. “We got the bucket and we won.”
Loyd curled around a screen from Stewart, who was open while cutting to the basket.
Stephanie Talbot, who finished with a season-high 21 points, inbounded the ball and delivered a pass to Loyd, who turned and rose for the fadeaway jumper.
“It felt like it took forever for the ball to actually get in the hoop, but in the moment I just walked away,” said Loyd, who finished with a game-high 25 points and seven assists. “I saw Sue right away and that was the moment. It was a great play and I’m just glad I was able to execute.”
Stewart added: “You hear it all the time about people who have the clutch gene. She embraces those moments. She embraces the big shot and trust that it’s going to go in. When you shoot those shots, you have to have the confidence that it’s going to go in, but also be at peace with yourself if it doesn’t go in. She has that.”
Loyd now has two last-second, game-winning three-pointers on her resume.
“Who doesn’t want to hit a buzzer-beater?” she said. “You practice it all the time as a kid. That’s how I grew up in the parks. Always counting in my head, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Shooting in my room with the toy hoops. Always playing like that with my brothers so it’s something I’ve always done as a kid, visualize myself in these big moments and try to execute.”
It was the third overtime victory this season for the Storm, which won its sixth in a row and improved to a WNBA-best 7-1.
Meanwhile, Dallas (2-5), which received 24 points from Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale’s 22, dropped another nail-biter to the Storm.
“We don’t give up,” said Stewart who tallied 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. “Continue to stay in the game. Continue to be resilient. The majority of us have been in these moments.
“We’ve been in the moment where we’re down 20. We always have an opportunity to fight back against a team because everybody else relaxes. We’ve been in the moments where we’re up and then we get down. We’re not shocked by anything that’s going to happen in the game, but we’re going to continue to play through it.”
— The Storm improved to 5-0 in Commissioner Cup games and holds a commanding lead over Western Conference challengers Las Vegas and Phoenix, who are both 2-1. WNBA teams play 10 Cup games and the leaders from each conference advance to the Commissioner’s Cup Championship to be played Aug. 12 at Phoenix Suns Arena.