The Seattle Storm survived a hit to their depth because of a big performance by Breanna Stewart on Friday.
The Storm (4-3) likely will encounter another short-handed situation Sunday when they host the struggling New York Liberty (1-6).
Seattle has won its past three games by a combined 14 points, following up three-point wins over Chicago and Los Angeles with Friday’s 79-71 overtime victory over the Liberty. The Storm outlasted New York as Sue Bird, third-leading scorer Ezi Magbegor and Stephanie Talbot were in the health and safety protocol.
“This isn’t ideal, but it’s the time that we’re in,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said. “We’ve been through it before and know how to adjust to it.”
Seattle was able to withstand the absences because Stewart scored a season-high 31 points in her third game back since missing two due to being in the protocol. Jewell Loyd added 21 for the Storm, who survived shooting 34.7 percent by getting Loyd and Stewart to combine on 20 of 23 attempts from the foul line.
“As a team, we’ve really been trying to navigate the health and safety protocols and trying to be safe and do the right thing,” Stewart said after Seattle shot under 40 percent for the fourth time this season.
New York is winless since getting an 81-79 win over the Connecticut Sun in its season opener on May 7, and Friday was its second overtime loss in the six-game skid. The Liberty rallied from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter to force overtime but shot 33.8 percent, missed 23 of 32 3-point tries and also committed 21 turnovers.
Natasha Howard scored 19 points, but New York’s other four starters of Sami Whitcomb, Stefanie Dolson, Rebecca Allen and Sabrina Ionescu combined to shoot 12 of 40 from the field.
“I was proud of the way they came back,” New York coach Sandy Brondello said. “We’re trying to teach them it’s a long game and you can’t let missed shots get into your psyche. We didn’t move the ball as crisply as we wanted to.”
–Field Level Media