Storm edge Aces in nail-biter to take Game 1 of semifinal series
Sun top sky to claim victory in series opener
Jewell Loyd scored 26 points, including Seattle's final six, and the Storm edged the Las Vegas Aces 76-73 on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the WNBA semifinals.
Loyd made a go-ahead free throw with 1:16 to play, then a jumper for a three-point lead with 34 seconds remaining before the Storm held on in the opener of the best-of-five series. She had 10 of Seattle's 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Associated Press MVP Breanna Stewart had 24 points and six rebounds for the fourth-seeded Storm, while Tina Charles added 13 points and 18 rebounds. Sue Bird had 12 assists.
Jackie Young finished with 11 points but Aces star A'ja Wilson was held to just eight on 3-of-10 shooting.
Seattle controlled much of the game, leading through the first 3 1/2 quarters after building a 12-point lead in the first half.
ANOTHER ONE FOR GOLD MAMBA 🐍 <a href="https://twitter.com/jewellloyd?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jewellloyd</a> <br><br>📺 <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> <a href="https://t.co/QiKGqSwXGq">pic.twitter.com/QiKGqSwXGq</a>—@WNBA
Las Vegas didn't enjoy its first lead until the fourth quarter, when veteran guard Riquna Williams' 3-pointer from the corner made it 65-64 with 6:09 left.
The Storm wasted no time in attacking early, as they built a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Seattle got balanced scoring, with five players contributing, including Ezi Magbegor coming off the bench to add four.
Las Vegas struggled to find any sort of rhythm, as a pop-and-shot approach left them with a paltry 5-of-18 (27.8 per cent) shooting performance in the first quarter. Both Wilson and Plum went scoreless while the Storm held a 26-15 lead after one.
The Aces responded with a much better defensive effort and seemed to be much more comfortable attacking the rim to climb back into the game.
Led by Wilson, the Aces used a 12-4 run to cut Seattle's lead to 30-27. Stewart took over from that point, scoring nine of her team's points during a quarter-ending 13-9 run to send the Storm into the locker room with a 43-36 halftime lead.
Bonner helps lead Sun past Sky
DeWanna Bonner had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Connecticut to a 68-63 win over the Chicago Sky in Game 1 of their semifinal series later on Sunday night.
Jonquel Jones scored 12 points and also grabbed nine rebounds for the Sun, Alyssa Thomas had 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Brionna Jones added 12 points. Jonquel Jones was 5 for 8 from the field and Brionna Jones shot 6 for 8.
Candace Parker had 19 points and 18 rebounds for the Sky, and Kahleah Copper scored 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Game 2 is back here Wednesday night.
The final dagger of Game 1. <a href="https://twitter.com/athomas_25?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@athomas_25</a> ➡️ <a href="https://twitter.com/DEEBONNER24?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DEEBONNER24</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CTSun?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CTSun</a> <a href="https://t.co/NdClTBzftw">pic.twitter.com/NdClTBzftw</a>—@ConnecticutSun
After Emma Meeseman's 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining gave Chicago a 63-62 lead and whipped the Wintrust Arena crowd into a frenzy, Jonquel Jones scored inside 27 seconds later to put the Sun back ahead.
Bonner made two free throws with 1:31 left to extend the lead, and Connecticut got two offensive rebounds to kill some time off the clock, and Bonner made a layup with 3.8 seconds left to seal the win.
Chicago missed its last four shots after Meeseman's go-ahead 3-pointer.
Connecticut outscored Chicago 20-12 in the third quarter as Natisha Hiedeman and Bonner made 3s and Bonner hit a pull-up jumper to move into double figures.
Copper knocked down a pair of free throws to nudge Chicago in front with 5:13 to go, shortly before she and Courtney Williams received double technical fouls for refusing to let go of a called jump ball.
Copper went 4 of 4 and hit a 3 for 11 points in the first half as the teams entered the break tied at 34.
Connecticut built an eight-point first quarter lead by scoring 11 points off six Chicago turnovers, but the Sky climbed back into it as Copper and Parker combined for 18-first half points.
Jones hit 3 of 4 shots to lead Connecticut with eight points and snagged four rebounds and two steals in a first half that had seven lead changes and five ties.