August 6, 2018 / 6:14 PM / 9 months ago

Stewart's 32 lifts league-best Storm over Liberty

Breanna Stewart scored 12 of her 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Seattle Storm pulled away late in the fourth quarter and increased their league-leading win total with a 96-80 victory over the host New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: 2017 Kids Choice Sport Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 13/07/2017 - WNBA basketball player Breanna Stewart. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

In a game that featured 22 lead changes and seven deadlocks, Stewart gave the Storm the lead for good by muscling in for a layup and converting the subsequent foul shot for a 77-74 lead with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining.

The Storm (22-7) won for the ninth time in 11 games and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Dream for the best record in the league.

Stewart posted her fifth game with at least 30 points by shooting 12 of 25 from the floor. The forward finished three shy of her season high and six shy of her career high set in 2016 against Atlanta.

Four Seattle players scored in double figures and the Storm outscored the Liberty 35-20 in the final 10 minutes. Seattle finished the game with a 24-6 run after Kia Nurse’s jumper gave New York a 74-72 lead with 5:55 remaining.

Jewell Loyd added 17 points while Natasha Howard contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sue Bird chipped in 10 points, including a key 3-pointer the game-clinching run, and added seven assists.

Tina Charles scored 20 points for the Liberty, who dropped their seventh straight game. Nurse also scored 20 on 8-of- 12 shooting in her first career start.

New York committed 20 turnovers to neutralize a respectable 47-percent showing from the field and its late collapse occurred two days after it scored just two points (and didn’t hit a basket) in the fourth-quarter in a 13-point loss to the Indiana Fever.

Amanda Zahui B scored 17 points off the bench for New York and helped the Liberty climb out of a 61-50 deficit and enter the fourth quarter down 61-60.

New York played the game without starters Shavonte Zellous (ankle) and Epiphanny Prince (knee).

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