Jewell Loyd and the Seattle Storm ‘Dog Pack’ played aggressively enough to beat San Antonio, 72-63.
There are two ways Jewell Loyd communicates — playing basketball and barking.
On Sunday, the No. 1 overall draft pick did a lot of postgame wolfing after leading Seattle to a 72-63 win against the San Antonio Stars at KeyArena. Loyd had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.
“We’re trying to find the inner dog within us,” said Loyd of herself, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Markeisha Gatling forming the “Dog Pack.” Loyd began the season asking to not start and has since grown to be named July’s rookie of the month.
“Us being so young, we want to play aggressive and we know it’s all within us,” Loyd continued. “Tonight, it definitely showed — the dog in us.”
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Tied at 61 points apiece with 3:34 left, Loyd teamed with rookie Ramu Tokashiki to provide the hustle plays that closed out a tight win the Storm (7-19) had typically lost early in the season.
Loyd’s biggest moment was an offensive rebound where she missed the putback, but got a new shot-clock with Seattle clinging to a 65-63 lead with 1:02 left. Guard Sue Bird ultimately made a three-pointer off a pass from Tokashiki to give the Storm a 68-63 lead with 41.7 seconds left.
Later, Loyd, who’s 5-foot-10, out-leaped San Antonio center Jayne Appel (6-4) on a jump ball with 26.9 seconds left. Loyd tipped it to Tokashiki, the former getting fouled on an offensive play and making the two shots at the foul line for a 70-63 lead.
“If we were 80-20 (percent) acting like rookies, it’s slid down to 60-40” said Bird, a 14-year WNBA veteran. “As a team, we still do things where the more experience you get, the less likely you are to make the mistakes we make. But Jewell was on point and definitely on offense was really the aggressor for us.”
After the game, Loyd joined Gatling in a little wolfing on the court. Gatling, a 6-5 center, had nine points off the bench to help Seattle outscore San Antonio 40-24 inside the paint.
“It’s really funny,” Storm forward Alysha Clark said of her teammates barking. “They embrace it and they bark. You’ll hear it out there on the floor. They have no shame.”
Seattle wasn’t wolfing as it went into the break down 35-34. But there was a KeyArena power outage just as halftime started. The cause was a faulty transformer at Seattle Center.
While the facility’s generators quickly clicked on, there were plenty of flashes from cameras trying to capture Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and girlfriend Ciara. The couple arrived at halftime and joined Wilson’s mother and his sister, who committed to play hoops at Stanford beginning with the 2016-17 season.
The outage meant the players’ warmup time was cut to five minutes. No problem, as the Storm closed the game on its 15-4 run.
“We’ve had a lot of close games this year and it just comes down to having the confidence to make plays,” Seattle coach Jenny Boucek said. “It’s not really coaching. It’s one of the hardest things for a young team to learn to do.”
The win pulled Seattle back into the postseason race. San Antonio (7-18) was hoping to regain the fourth and final slot in the Western Conference race.
“I did look at it Sunday, to kind of see where we’re at,” said San Antonio coach Dan Hughes of analyzing the standings. “But I’m just not sure how beneficial it is at this point because it becomes overwhelming.”