By Scott Mammoser
PHOENIX – A 31-point second quarter allowed the Seattle Storm to erase a double-digit deficit and win at the Phoenix Mercury, 87-71, on Wednesday, with Jewell Loyd scoring 22 of her 29 in the second half.
|Double-digit lead evaporates in loss to Storm|
“We just didn’t execute very well,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “It’s hard to keep a great player (Loyd) down two games in a row. It’s a game we can learn a lot from. I say, ‘Welcome to the WNBA,’ you never know what you’re going to get, every single game. That’s how strong this league is.”
The Mercury (2-1) scored the first eight points of the game, until Loyd scored at the 7:20 mark. Briann January answered with a three, and the largest Mercury lead would be 13-2.
Things came apart for the Mercury shortly after, as the Storm (1-1) found its rhythm, coming within 20-15 after the first, taking a 23-22 lead and widening the lead to 46-33 at the half. Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird knocked down consecutive three pointers to bring Seattle to the break. Phoenix cut it to 62-57 after three behind Griner’s nine and Taurasi’s seven points in the period.
“We had a lack of focus from a veteran team like this, it’s unacceptable,” Taurasi said. “We take that one on the chin. The WNBA season is a work in progress because it’s so short. Week to week, month to month, you’re trying to figure out what works best against certain teams, and today wasn’t one of those days.”
The fourth quarter saw Loyd add 14 points and Alysha Clark eight of her 16 for the Storm, as it redeemed itself from Sunday’s 87-82 loss to the Mercury in its home opener. Loyd was 3-of-11 for 10 points in that game, as Brondello referenced earlier. Griner, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday’s win, scored 18 on Wednesday, Taurasi finished with 23, and DeWanna Bonner grabbed nine rebounds, eight on the defensive side.
“It’s early, we can’t panic,” Mercury forward Camille Little said. “We missed shots, they made shots, it’s not a good thing, it happens.”
The Mercury is at the Sparks at 2 p.m. on Sunday and returns home at 7 p.m. May 30 to meet the Washington Mystics. The Storm hosts Chicago at 7 p.m. on Friday, its first non-Mercury opponent this season, including two preseason games with Phoenix.
“We treated tonight like a playoff game,” first-year Storm coach Dan Hughes said about seeing the same opponent so many times. “We had a couple of days to make adjustments, and we used it the same way we would for the playoffs.”