Shorthanded Storm use defense and grit to beat Liberty, 79-71 in overtime

Jewell Loyd is all smiles as the team huddles up after a timeout. (Neil Enns/Seattle Storm)

Seattle, WA – For the fourth straight game, the Seattle Storm battled down to the wire on home court. For the third straight time, they would win narrowly, defeating the New York Liberty 79-71 in overtime. Without two starters and a key bench player due to “Health and Safety protocols,” the Storm were able to use a next women up mentality to grind out a third straight victory.

The Storm defense has been the main story of their seasons, showing up in nearly every game as the offense searches for their rhythm. Notably, the additions of Gabby Williams and Brian January have seemingly filled the hole left by defensive stopper Alysha Clark when she departed in 2021. Williams had six steals, while New York totaled five as a team. Seattle held New York to a shooting percentage of 33.8% from the field, and 28% from beyond the arch. Guard Jewell Loyd spoke about the defense from Williams, and the team as a whole.

“Gabby is so athletic; she hasn’t even reached her potential yet. Her ability, and our ability, to switch a lot on defense… she gets her hand on so many balls, rebounding. That’s just our versatility defensively, we are very long as a team,” Loyd would reflect.

Two members of Seattle big three “put the team on their back,” as Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart poured in 52 of the Storm’s 79 points. With some key members of the team out and Seattle still having not found their offensive rhythm, Loyd and Stewart stepped

up.. Stewart notably attacked the rim all night long, getting to the free throw line often. Stewart attempted 18 free throws, converting 15 shots from the charity stripe. Those 15 made free throws is now tied for the most in a game in Storm history, and also was critical for Seattle in overtime. Several key Liberty players would foul out, including former Storm players Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb. Stewart would remark on her attacking mindset postgame

“We wanted to be aggressive, we wanted to attack and really put pressure on the rim. Whether that was in the half court set or in tranisition. We know that they would switch a lot on me, that they would be in more of a drop coverage, and it just gave us free range to attack and get whatever we want,” Stewart would state.

Seattle has a historic home-stand, tied for the longest in WNBA history, 8 games. They are currently 3-1 during the current time at home, a solid start all things considered. The Storm played with only eight members on the roster, with the news of Sue Bird and Ezi Magbegor being placed on the “Health and Safety Protocols” list just hours before tip off. While the rest of this historic home-stand doesn’t get any easier, it seems like Seattle may have found some footing. One can only imagine what this Storm team will look like when it’s fully healthy.

The Storm’s next contest comes on Sunday, May 29th against this same New York Liberty team. Tip-off is at 3PM PST, and it is currently unclear if Seattle will be able to get Bird, Magbegor, or Steph Talbot back from Health and Safety Protocols