Loyd hits late jumper, Storm rally to beat Mystics 74-71
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jewell Loyd scored 14 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 8.6 seconds left, and the defending champion Seattle Storm overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Washington Mystics 74-71 on Friday night in a rematch of the WNBA Finals.
This time, the Storm were without Breanna Stewart — the reigning league MVP who will miss the entire season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon— and Sue Bird, a 38-year-old 11-time All-Star and three-time WNBA champion, who is out indefinitely following arthroscopic surgery on her left knee on May 30.
Loyd made a fast-break layup and Natasha Howard hit a running floater in the lane to make it 71-all it with 49.3 seconds remaining. On the ensuing Mystics possession, Loyd tipped a cross-court pass that, after video review, was ruled to have deflected off Washington’s LaToya Sanders before going out of bounds. Alysha Clark’s errant inbound pass was nearly stolen but Loyd controlled the loose ball and called timeout. Howard, near the top of the key, screened for Loyd, who hit a rolling Howard. She drove into the lane and then kicked it back to Loyd for a 17-footer from straightaway that gave Seattle (5-3) a 73-71 lead, its first since early in the second quarter.
“We wanted to get (Howard) in some space so we ran a nice high ball screen,” Loyd said. “They went with her, because she had been killing all night, and left me open in my sweet spot and, God willing, I was able to make that shot.”
The Mystics (4-3) called a timeout, advancing the ball to midcourt, and Elena Delle Donne, double-teamed on the inbound pass, tipped it to Aerial Powers, who missed a potential tying runner in the lane.
Delle Donne led Washington with 19 points. She made a driving layup to close the third quarter and a jumper to open the fourth that gave Washington its biggest lead at 65-52. The Storm scored 12 of the next 14 points to pull within three with four minutes to go before Shatori Walker-Kimbrough hit a long 2-pointer and, after Seattle’s Alysha Clark missed a jumper, Powers hit two free throws to make it 71-64.
Mercedes Russell made the first of two free throws and then, about a minute later, hit a jumper to trim Seattle’s deficit to four with 1:47 left. Washington’s Natasha Cloud missed a short jumper and Howard grabbed the rebound and hit a streaking Loyd for the tying layup.
“We were able to get some stops,” Loyd said. “Mercedes hit that jump shot; that kind of gave us some life.”
Howard had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Seattle. Russell added 15 points and 11 rebounds — both career highs.
Powers scored 16 points for the Mystics.