SEATTLE >> Breanna Stewart scored nine of her 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Seattle Storm held off the Washington Mystics 75-73 today to take a 2-0 lead in the WNBA Finals.
Seattle will head to Washington for Game 3 on Wednesday night needing only a split back east to claim the third title in franchise history.
Stewart went nearly 18 minutes of game time without scoring, but was responsible for six of Seattle’s final seven points as the Storm held off Washington’s late rally. Seattle led 70-65 after Stewart’s hook in the lane with 4:25 left, and was the Storm’s last field goal. Washington’s Kristi Toliver made two difficult jumpers in the final 90 seconds to keep Washington within one, but the Mystics were unable to get a shot up on their next possession trailing 74-73, when Toliver lost the ball going baseline and a mad scramble led to a jump ball Seattle won.
The ensuing jump ball between Natasha Howard and Tianna Hawkins ended up in the hands of Jewell Loyd. Seattle was able to run seven seconds off the clock before Alysha Clark was fouled and her free throw gave Seattle a two-point lead. Washington was out of timeouts and couldn’t advance the ball into the front court. Atkins’ desperation half-court shot at the buzzer was well off.
Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics with 17 points but was scoreless in the fourth quarter, taking just one shot.
Toliver and Ariel Atkins both added 15 points for Washington. But the Mystics missed all 16 3-point attempts.
Loyd finished with 13 points.
Stewart went nearly 18 minutes of game time without scoring. She split free throws with 3:21 left in the first quarter then didn’t score again until a pair of free throws with 5:36 left in the third quarter. She went even longer without a made basket, finally snapping a 22-minute stretch without a field goal hitting a 17-footer with 1:49 left in the quarter.
Despite Stewart finally getting back on the score sheet, Delle Donne and the Mystics continued to have answers. Her three-point play late in the third pushed Washington’s lead to five and the Mystics took a 61-58 lead to the fourth. That was the final points of the game for Delle Donne, while Stewart was continually fed by her teammates in the fourth.
Seattle has won seven straight Finals games dating to 2004. They have never lost a Finals game at home. … It was the first time this season Washington failed to make a 3-pointer. … Bird had 8 points on 3 of 12 shooting.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Washington.