Storm defense locks down late to beat Sky

Photo by Aaron Nelson / fi360 News

Seattle, WA – It came down to a defensive possession with nine seconds left, but the Storm defeated the Chicago Sky 74-71. The Sky roared back from a 15-point deficit, but a shot at the buzzer by Allie Quigley hit the front of the rim. Ezi Magbegor tied her career high in points with 21, just a game after setting a career high in blocks. The victory over the defending WNBA Champion Sky snaps Seattle’s two game losing streak, and gives them their first win of an eight game homestand.

The star of the show for Seattle was Aussie Center Ezi Magbegor, putting up 21 points. Interestingly enough, Magbegor didn’t score a point in the fourth quarter. The 22-year-old has started her 2022 campaign on a positive note, while having several elite matchups including Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles, and now Candace Parker. Magbegor’s breakout season is a huge key to Seattle’s title hopes, and it looks like Ezi is right on track to play the best she has in the WNBA. Magbegor has earned praise from her teammates, and head coach Noelle Quinn. Quinn and Breanna Stewart spoke about Magbegor post game.

Photo by Aaron Nelson / fi360 News

“When Ezi’s aggressive, everybody else play’s off of her. Her taking on a bigger role and realizing that and embracing it will obviously help her continue to grow in her career. Whatever Ezi wants to do, she can do on the court, I’m going to read off of her, Sue’s gonna read off of her, Jewell is gonna read off of her, because we know the type of player that she is, and that she is going to continue to be. When Ezi plays like she did tonight, it will only help our team,” Stewart remarked about her teammate.

“She is so deserving of these moments, to show the world what we see from her every day. She works extremely hard, is very humble, an amazing teammate… she’s low maintenance. I am proud of the moments like this because these are things, we tell her every day that she is capable, it’s not just the points. It’s the energy, the coming over to block shots, plugging holes. Things that you don’t see on the stat sheet,” Noelle Quinn stated about Magbegor.

Seattle’s defensive play has been amazing to begin the season, holding two great teams to minimal scoring in back-to-back games. Phoenix and Chicago have rosters that are LOADED with talent, including plenty of offensive firepower, and the Storm have held them to 69 and 71 respectively. With the additions of Gabby Williams and Briann January, it looks like Seattle may have filled the hole left by defensive stopper Alysha Clark’s departure after the 2020 season. Team defense like the Storm have been playing will help them against any contender, as it did against Chicago, and at times against Phoenix and Las Vegas. Breanna Stewart would discuss the team’s defense postgame.

“We know that our defense is gonna be extremely important now, but when we get into the later part of the season. Building the trust of having each other’s back, which you can see has been developing over these first five games… Our defense is great and now we have to get our offense going, and get the shots that we want,” Stewart reflected.

Photo by Aaron Nelson / fi360 News

The Storm getting Stewart and Prince back from health and safety protocols was obviously huge for Seattle, but it was the young Center Ezi Magbegor that stole the show for Seattle. The offensive production was once again limited, with only two players in double digits. As Breanna Stewart noted, the defensive game from the Storm has been great. With that being said, the offense has not been hitting shots at a rate that they would like. Only five games in, it’s clear that there is time for the team to get both sides of the ball firing on all cylinders. Six more games left in this homestand will certainly give the Storm time to work on that.

The next contest for the Storm comes on Friday, May 20th vs former Seattle Guard Jordin Canada and the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sparks sit at a 2-3 record on the season, similar to Seattle, and are led by Nneka Ogwumike. Tipoff is at 7PM PST at Climate Pledge Arena.