Seattle is one win away from returning to the WNBA Finals after defeating Las Vegas, 76-73. Sunday’s Game 1 of the semifinal series between the Hurricanes and the Aces is seven no. 1 general election between opponents.
The 1st match was a tight contest between the two title contenders. So it’s only fitting that the opening game ends on a heroic note. Jewell Lloyd (26 points and four assists) had that heroic finish after Aja Wilson (eight points, 12 rebounds, three assists) hit a three-pointer from the left wing.
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) August 28, 2022
Lloyd wasn’t the only member of the Storm to post a memorable performance. Sue Bird (two points and four rebounds) was the playoff assist queen after posting 12 assists and zero turnovers on Sunday. Tina Charles (13 points) grabbed a franchise-high 18 rebounds, including five offensive boards. Breanna Stewart contributed 24 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks.
“When I made the decision to come here, I was trying to fill the holes,” Charles said in a swish appeal. “And I know that’s coming back again with third-, fourth-option scoring and taking my shots when they come to me. For me, going into this game, the only thing I know I can control is whether I’m on the board and watching their attitude when we box out – so for me, I definitely just took it to try to get into this game. The boards, start early sales, find second chance opportunities – I know those are always key playtimes.
Stewie and Lloyd played a strong 1-2 game for Seattle, with the former UConn legend hitting high-flying jumpers before Lloyd got caught in the fourth quarter. As Seattle got closer in Game 1, Lloyd scored or assisted on the Hurricanes’ final 12 points, including 10 points herself.
Lloyd scored on a layup in the paint, a short bank shot from the left side, sank a pair of free throws to cut Las Vegas’ lead and buried a triple to give Seattle a 73-71 lead after forcing a Vegas turnover. 45 minutes left. She then hit that game-winning walk off Wilson with three downs to cap Seattle’s come-from-behind win. Kelsey Plum (20 points, four rebounds and two assists) had a chance to steal Game 1, but missed the game-winner.
“I think she’s grown a lot over the last series,” head coach Noelle Quinn said of Lloyd, also known as the Gold Mamba, a nickname given to her by Kobe Bryant. “And today I kind of had the courage to, you know, kick. She started well, maybe a little calm, but she ended up with a lot of firepower – some calm, making good reads, she was trapped in the morning and she’s been caught many times this year and she handled it very well today. She continues to grow before our eyes. I think the last series helped capture that experience and how they handle it. She’s a great player and continues to make big plays for us.
Jewell plays with confidence, and we need that. If the Jewel is not in good condition, if it is not empty, if it is not in period, we will not be successful. And I think she understands that, and she’s locked into that. And what’s amazing today is that she (Chelsea) is gray when she’s waiting for most of her game and still manages to be very effective. She is looking for ways to help our team outside of getting buckets. It’s the defense, it’s the steals, it’s getting into the passing lane, it’s the energy. All these extra little things are important.
Seattle will look to take a 2-0 series lead into Las Vegas on Wednesday at 10 on ESPN 2.