Remember this game if the Storm extend the season into September with a deep playoff run toward their fifth WNBA title.
Against the reigning champions and league-leading Chicago Sky, Seattle was simply dominant — at least offensively — during a 111-100 victory Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,314 at Wintrust Arena.
At a time when they needed it the most, the Storm played their best game of the year while delivering a historic offensive bonanza highlighted by a WNBA record 37 assists.
“I credit a veteran point guard and some veteran players, MVP-type players for understanding that this is the next layer as we move forward,” said assistant Pokey Chatman, who assumed head-coaching duties while Noelle Quinn missed her second straight game and remained in Seattle after contracting COVID-19. “Noelle has been talking about it all year, about our pace, about playing in the middle third floor and how difficult it is to guard.
“I can’t wait to watch the video so we can get a true sense of how many points came off of that. It’s resonating. I think this will be a good video to watch to keep that momentum going as we move forward.”
It was the third most points a WNBA team has scored in a game this season and tied the Storm’s franchise record set Aug. 7, 2010.
“We had fun,” said Breanna Stewart, the WNBA’s leading scorer who finished with a team-high 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists “We scored a lot. And it’s against the best team in the league right now.”
In her last four games, Stewart is making a convincing closing argument on her bid to win a second WNBA MVP while averaging 29.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 62% shooting.
As good as Stewart was, Gabby Williams was arguably the Storm’s most important player, setting the tone early while scoring 10 of her 21 points in the first quarter when Seattle jumped out to a 38-26 lead.
“Her fingerprints were all over the game tonight offensively and defensively,” Stewart said. “Once she’s able to see that ball go in the basket, whether it’s a layup or midrange [shot] or three, it continues to give her confidence. Whenever she’s going downhill and attacking, it’s hard to stop.”
Williams, who was drafted No. 4 overall by Chicago in 2018 and traded by the Sky in 2021, took no extra delight in punishing her former team with an all-around dominant performance that included seven assists, four rebounds and three steals.
“Of course, it always feels nice to have a game like this,” said Williams, who connected on seven of nine field goals, including two three-pointers. “But tonight was just about what it meant for us for this road trip, for our ranking and to see for myself what I can do against these teams.”
With Jewell Loyd scoring 14 of her 18 points in the first half, the Storm led 62-42 with 2:37 left in the second quarter. Chicago finished the period on a 13-4 run and Seattle went into the break ahead 66-55, which was the most points in franchise history.
The Storm used a 16-4 run to go up 90-68 with 2:48 in the third quarter and seemed poised to deliver an early knockout.
Once again, the Sky fought back with an 11-0 rebuttal to end the period with Seattle ahead 90-79.
Chicago seized momentum in the fourth and cut its deficit to 103-95 with 2:06 left when Stewart and Sue Bird (10 points and eight assists) put the game away with clutch three-pointers.
“We never stopped,” Stewart said. “Chicago made their run multiple times; and when they did, we responded. Anytime we’re playing away on someone’s home court, they’re not going to give us the game. And we were able to keep our lead, but continue to make plays throughout the entire 40 minutes.”
Seattle shot 58.7% (44 of 75) from the field, 45.8% (11 of 24) on three-pointers and 100% (12 of 12) at the free-throw line while committing eight turnovers.
Tina Charles had 14 points and seven rebounds, Ezi Magbegor came off the bench for 13 points and every Seattle player had at least one assist. The Storm also had a season-high 62 points in the paint.
“Fun to coach,” Chatman said. “When you have a team sharing the ball like that, you’re hard to beat.”
Former Kentwood High standout Courtney Vandersloot had a game-high 28 points to lead six Sky players who scored in double figures. Chicago (25-9) had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The Storm (21-13) and the Washington Mystics (20-14) are locked in a first-round playoff matchup next week. Seattle needs to win one of its two remaining regular-season games or a loss by the Mystics to clinch the No. 4 seed and secure homecourt advantage in the best-of-three series.
“We knew this was a big one,” Stewart said. “We just wanted to play hard and enjoy one another. We are a team that doesn’t mind going on the road, but home court advantage is what we want.”