So what does Jewell Loyd have left for an encore?
The Storm star sent the WNBA buzzing late Friday night after draining perhaps the biggest basket of the season, a corner three-pointer while falling out of bounds with a defender in her face.
The shot gave the Storm a 90-89 victory over Los Angeles in Bradenton, Florida, and capped an implausible comeback for Seattle, which trailed by two points with 0.8 seconds remaining.
Except, it’s not the end of the story for Loyd, who returns to the IMG Academy court at 3 p.m. Sunday when Seattle (15-3) faces Minnesota (13-5).
With a second victory over the Lynx — the Storm won 90-66 on July 28 — Seattle secures one of the top four seeds and receives a bye from the first round of the WNBA playoffs.
“This team is pretty well grounded,” Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “They don’t get too high on anything or too low on losses. They really have a pretty short memory. I think we’ll be fine as far as the turnaround.
“Everybody realizes how good a team Minnesota is. They’re kind of desperate to stay in their spot or move up a spot playoff wise. I know we’re going to be in for a really difficult game.”
And the quick turnaround makes it difficult to truly savor potentially career-defining moments like Loyd’s 25-point performance and first buzzer-beating game winner.
“That was a monumental shot,” Kloppenburg said. “You don’t have too many of those in your career. You can count them on one hand. We enjoyed it. … It was pretty uplifting for our team to win like that.”
“I can’t stop watching it,” forward Crystal Langhorne posted on Twitter.
In a retweet, guard Sami Whitcomb wrote: “I keep watching all the different reactions.”
Seemingly everyone in the WNBA world is watching Loyd. Video of her buzzer beater had garnered more than 300,000 views by Saturday afternoon.
The two-time All-Star is often overlooked on a team that’s loaded with four WNBA All-Stars, including 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart, future Hall of Famer Sue Bird and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Natasha Howard.
But Loyd has stepped into the spotlight and if this is going to be a truly epic season for the Storm, then it will need more of her shot-making heroics.
The 5-foot-10 guard tallied a career-high 35 points on 12-for-19 shooting two weeks ago against Indiana.
Early last month, she had a four-game stretch that included three 20-point performances. She’s averaging 14.5 points, which is two more than last year and she’s shooting a career-best 39.5% on three-pointers.
By virtue of her latest exploits, the six-year veteran who was taken No. 1 overall in the 2015 WNBA draft is building a reputation as a steely go-to performer in pressure situations.
“She’s hit some big shots if you look back in the last few years,” Kloppenburg said. “Maybe not a game ender like that, but she’s hit some big shots. I think in the playoffs against Phoenix she hit some crucial shots for us.”
Several Storm players were asked early this season which teammate they would want taking the last shot if trailing by two points.
Bird, Seattle’s all-time three-point leader, received the most votes followed by Stewart and Whitcomb, a three-point specialist. If given a chance to recast their votes, Loyd would likely draw significantly more consideration.
“She’s a player that you’re probably going to call or draw up a play for her as one of your primary options in that situation just because she can get her shot up quick,” Kloppenburg said. “She’s a scorer and not afraid of those big moments.”
- Backup point guard Jordin Canada will miss her second straight game while dealing with a right-knee issue.