September 10, 2018 / 5:49 AM / 11 days ago

Stewart scores 25 as Storm take 2-0 Finals lead

League MVP Breanna Stewart scored 25 points and keyed a fourth-quarter run as the host Seattle Storm took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals with a 75-73 victory against the Washington Mystics on Sunday afternoon.

Sep 9, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Mystics guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (center) pulls down a rebound between Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (left) and forward Natasha Howard (right) during the fourth quarter of game two of the WNBA Finals at KeyArena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Jewell Loyd scored 12 of her 13 points in the second half for top-seeded Seattle, which improved to 5-0 at home in the playoffs. Natasha Howard added eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday night in Washington.

Elena Delle Donne, showing increased mobility after sustaining a bone bruise on her left knee in the semifinals, led the third-seeded Mystics with 17 points. Ariel Atkins and Kristi Toliver each added 15.

Seattle trailed 61-58 entering the fourth quarter, but Stewart made a 3-pointer with 8:41 left to give the Storm a 63-61 lead. She then stole the ball near midcourt and fed Sami Whitcomb for an uncontested layup.

The biggest shot for Seattle came with 6:51 left. With the shot clock winding down, veteran point guard Sue Bird got the ball with her back to the basket about 30 feet out at the top of the key. Bird spun and banked in a 3-pointer to make it 68-63, capping a 10-2 run to open the quarter.

The Mystics pulled within 70-69 on a layup by LaToya Sanders with 3:20 left.

Stewart converted two free throws with 2:14 remaining to make it 72-69. Toliver made a fadeaway jumper with 1:12 left as the Mystics again got within one.

After a Seattle timeout, Bird fed Stewart down low, and Sanders fouled her with 53.6 seconds left. Two Stewart free throws made it 74-71.

Toliver made another fadeaway under tight defensive pressure with 35.9 seconds left to pull the Mystics within 74-73.

Washington fouled Stewart again, although this time she missed both attempts and Delle Donne rebounded with 16.4 seconds remaining, giving the Mystics the ball.

Mike Thibault, the league’s winningest all-time coach, called Washington’s final timeout to set up a final shot.

Toliver tried to drive the lane but lost control and the ball got tied up, with a jump ball called with 8.8 seconds left. Howard won the tip with Tianna Hawkins, getting the ball to Loyd, and Seattle spread the floor, with Alysha Clark getting fouled with 1.8 seconds left. Clark made the second of two free throws, and Atkins’ 75-foot heave at the buzzer missed.

The Mystics shot 0-for-16 from 3-point range but stayed in the game by committing only seven turnovers, although four of those came in the fourth quarter.

—Field Level Media

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