Jewell Lloyd scored a career-high 30 points, including an off-balance bank shot with 2.9 seconds remaining.
PHOENIX — Jewell Loyd’s father is a big-time basketball fan with old-school sensibilities.
“He loves the bank shot,” the Storm guard said. “So I guess that’s a tribute to him.”
“That” was a 12-foot bank that Loyd hit with 2.9 seconds remaining to give Seattle an 81-80 victory over the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
It was an important victory for a Storm team coming off a 30-point loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. In that game, Seattle managed just one three-point field goal. Friday the Storm made nine, including three from Loyd, who finished with a game-high 30 points.
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The Mercury (0-3) led most of the way and veteran Diana Taurasi played in the fourth quarter like someone ready to take the game over. But some big missed shots late set the stage for Loyd.
The game plan in the final seconds was for Loyd to attack the rim.
“But I saw (DeWanna) Bonner sagging and I just tried to create some space and get a good look at the rim,” Loyd said. “It felt good. Those are the shots I kind of take during warmups all the time. It felt normal.”
After musing about how the shot was hardly high-percentage, Storm coach Jenny Boucek acknowledged she was just grateful for the victory.
“When it comes to the end of games in this league, the defenses are so tough, the coaches are so smart, a lot of times it’s going to be a broken play.”
Loyd’s 30 points were a career high and came off 12-of-20 shooting. She continues to build off her standout Rookie of the Year season.
“The exciting thing is, I still think she has a long way to go,” Boucek said. “But she’s a young player who I think the game has slowed down for a little bit.”
The loss was the first the Mercury has suffered at home with the lineup of Taurasi, Bonner, Penny Taylor, Brittney Griner and Candice Dupree.
Many had built this game up as a clash of the Connecticut titans, but it was a former Notre Dame star, Loyd, who made the difference.
Former Huskies standout Taurasi scored 11 fourth-quarter points but could not deliver on some big outside shots late.
Other UConn products Sue Bird and rookie Breanna Stewart finished with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
“Jewell has actually been playing at that level all training camp,” Bird said. “She’s matured in her game, and you can tell the minute she got back from Europe, and it’s paying dividends.”