Without Breanna Stewart, Mercedes Russell and Epiphanny Prince, Noelle Quinn mused for a minute about coming out of retirement and suiting up once again for the short-handed Storm while simultaneously coaching the team. 

“I’m like do I need to sign up?” the 37-year-old Quinn said smiling during a postgame teleconference Wednesday night. 

Down to just nine players — one fewer than the WNBA limit — Quinn scrambled to put together a lineup, rotations and a scheme that would prove to be effective. 

On the team bus ride from the hotel to Footprint Center, the Storm learned Stewart was out because of the WNBA’s health and safety protocols and joined Prince who entered protocols hours earlier. 

The Storm kept pace with the Phoenix Mercury for about 18 minutes, but not surprisingly Seattle ran out of offensive options and fell 97-77 for their second straight loss. 

“It was difficult,” Quinn said. “A lot of my notes … in my mind is with our full team so my preparation had to (change) within the short amount of time.  


“It’s tough, but that’s life though. When adversity hits, you can’t just roll over. You got to transition to progress and figure out ways to be successful. Not a lot of time, but next woman up mentality was our goal.”

Before learning Stewart would be unavailable Quinn said the Storm would be forced to rely on some “funky lineups” due to Prince’s absence. 

They were already missing center Mercedes Russell who hasn’t played this season because of a non-basketball related injury and is expected to return in 2-4 weeks. 

At one point against Phoenix, the Storm rolled out a lineup featuring five guards, including wings Gabby Williams and Stephanie Talbot playing in the post. 

“We were just on the fly out there,” said the 41-year-old Sue Bird, the WNBA’s oldest player who has played 19 seasons. “There are times in my career when I’m like I think I’ve seen it all. And then this happens. The scratches were literally right before the game. I don’t know if we talked literally adjustments. We had to just figure it out on the fly.” 

Making matters worse for the Storm, Jewell Loyd crumpled on the court after running into Brianna Turner’s screen with 5:16 first quarter.  

The Storm star went to the locker room and returned after seven minutes to drain a buzzer-beating three-pointer as time expired in the first quarter that gave Seattle an 18-16 lead. 


It was one of the few highlights for the Storm (1-2), which shot 38% from the field and committed 16 turnovers that led to 34 points.

With Stewart sidelined, the Storm needed massive offensive performances from Loyd and Bird as well as significant contributions from several role players to offset the loss of its scoring leader. 

Loyd poured in a season-high 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting and Bird canned four three-pointers for 14 points and five assists. Ezi Magbegor (11 points and five rebounds) was the only other Storm player in double-digit scoring. 

Storm newcomer Gabby Williams struggled once again offensively and scored just five points on 2-for-11 shooting while Jantel Lavender, who started in place of Stewart, had two points, five rebounds and five assists. 

Seattle led 29-26 with 5:08 left in the second quarter when Phoenix ended the period with a 13-2 run to go into halftime ahead 39-31. 

The Mercury used a 14-3 run early in the third quarter to go ahead 58-42. The Storm answered with an 15-4 spurt to cut its deficit to five (62-57). 


The Storm never got any closer in the fourth quarter. 

Tina Charles (22 points and 11 rebounds) led five Mercury players who scored at least 10 points. Phoenix (1-1) shot 57.1% from the field and got its first win for new head coach Vanessa Nygaard.

“The one thing I’m going to take away from this game is that regardless of the score and regardless of the play, we did stay together,” Bird said. “I think that is a good sign because there’s no way to know when Stewie is joining the team again or when Piph is joining the team again. So this is it right now.  

“A team that stays together and weathers these types of moments and storm … regardless of the outcome, you can build on that. That’s what I’m taking from this game.” 

The Storm hosts the Mercury on Saturday in a rematch. 


  • Storm assistant Ebony Hoffman missed her third straight game Wednesday due to WNBA health and safety protocols.
  •  Seattle fell to 1-2 in Commissioner’s Cup games and is third in the six-team Western Conference. The two teams with the highest winning percentages from each conference after 10 Cup games will compete for the tournament title featuring $500,000 in prize money on July 26 in the home arena of the team leading Commissioner’s Cup play.
  • The Storm signed rookie guard Raina Perez on Wednesday to a hardship contract.
  • Bird has made a three-pointer in 31 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the WNBA.