ARLINGTON, Texas — Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd combined to score 30 of their 38 points in the first half and the Seattle Storm beat the Dallas Wings 78-64 on Sunday, and clinched the No. 6 seed in playoffs.
The Storm, the defending champions, will host No. 7 seed Minnesota in a single-elimination first-round game on Wednesday. The Lynx lost at Los Angeles and the Storm has the tiebreaker between the teams.
“You know, it was an important game for us because we knew if we could win and LA could beat Minnesota, we could go home,” Storm coach Dan Hughes said. “So we were motivated.”
Seattle has won three in a row overall, and four straight at home, against the Lynx.
Howard had 16 of her 22 points in the first half and Loyd had 14 of her 16 before the break.
Howard also had nine rebounds and two steals to finish with a league-leading 74 steals, the most in a season in Storm history.
Seattle (18-16) shot 53.1% (17 of 32) from the field in the first half while limiting the Wings to 8 of 29 (28.6 percent and forcing 10 Wings turnovers to take a 44-26 lead into the break and Dallas trailed by at least 14 the rest of the way.
“Well, usually I’m getting ready for playoffs right now, that’s number one,” Dallas coach Brian Agler said of the difference for him this time of year. “Apart from that, just the youth of the team. Coaching so many young players, which is refreshing in a lot of ways, but it is also challenging in a lot of ways when you are going up against a really good team. So that is part of the learning experience.”
Arike Ogunbowale led the Wings (10-24) with 25 points to finish with 630, the third-highest rookie scoring total in WNBA history.
“She’s extremely talented, as everyone knows,” Seattle’s Crystal Langhorne said. “Yeah, you’ve got to put a lot of bodies at her. Throw double teams at her. Throw triple teams at her sometimes. Make her give it up.”