This is why Seattle is the consensus choice to emerge from the WNBA’s bubble in Bradenton, Fla., with a WNBA title. A relentless pace, a deep roster and more scoring options, perhaps, than any other team playing at the IMG Academy.
It was all there Tuesday as the Storm, well, stormed past the Lynx 90-66.
The Storm got scoring up and down its roster, getting points from 11 players and at least one three from six. On defense Seattle had the Lynx on their heels, forcing 19 turnovers, holding Minnesota to 33.9% shooting and 5-for-18 on three-pointers.
There is likely no team deeper than Seattle. A playoff team a year ago with both Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart hurt, the Storm is a daunting group with both back.
“The pace they run their offense at, driving and kicking the ball?” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “They’re a big-time challenge. Their ball pressure was really good and our execution was really poor because of it.”
It was a one-sided loss that was costly. Veteran forward Karima Christmas-Kelly injured her ankle in the first half and did not return. Starting guard Lexie Brown took a hard fall late in the game, hitting her head on the floor. She stayed down for a while before leaving the court slowly under her own power. Reeve said she would have an update on both Wednesday.
The loss of one or both players for an extended period would have a big impact on rotations. With Christmas-Kelly out, rookie Mikiah Herbert Harrigan saw her first WNBA action.
A silver lining? Center Sylvia Fowles pulled down her seventh rebound of the night at the end of the first half. It gave her 3,357, pushing her past former Lynx great Rebekkah Brunson into first place on the WNBA’s all-time rebounding list. Brunson, now an assistant coach, posed at center court with the ball before the team returned to the locker room for halftime.
“It was such an unbelievable moment,” said Fowles, who scored 15 points with 11 rebounds. “And I’m happy I had a chance to honor [Brunson] for all the work she put in. It feels surreal at this moment.”
Reeve said she was blessed to have been able to watch two of the best rebounders in women’s basketball history
“It was just a special moment for the franchise,” she said. “Two of the greatest of all time.”
It was a rare high point on a difficult night. Damiris Dantas scored 18 points but had six turnovers. Napheesa Collier had 11, but didn’t score after halftime and had six turnovers of her own.
Still, it was a three-point game in the third quarter before the Storm (2-0), getting two three-pointers from Stewart, went on a 12-0 run to go up 15. That lead only grew as the second half played out.
“It’s rough right now,” said Reeve of her team. “We’re learning. We have to go through things together to develop an identity. We have to go through some stuff.”
The Star Tribune will not be traveling to Florida this month for MLS, NBA and WNBA coverage. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.