League MVP Breanna Stewart scored 19 of her 28 points in the first half, Jewell Loyd added 23 – including Seattle’s final seven points – and the Storm held on to beat the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 on Sunday in Game 1 of their WNBA semifinal series.
After posting the best record in the league during the regular season, Seattle got a week of rest before opening the semifinals at home. For the most part there was no rust from the layoff, but Phoenix made the final minutes uncomfortable after cutting a 16-point deficit to two.
Loyd came up with a pair of clutch baskets, including a 15-footer with 1 minute left to beat the shot clock and push Seattle’s lead to four.
DeWanna Bonner led Phoenix with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Diana Taurasi added 25 points. But the third of Phoenix’s big three stars, Brittney Griner, was held to 13 points and battled foul trouble throughout.
Natasha Howard added 20 points and Sue Bird had 10 points and 10 assists for Seattle. The Storm finished with 13 3-pointers, 10 in the first half.
Mystics 87, Dream 84: Elena Delle Donne had 32 points and 13 rebounds, Ariel Atkins added 15 points and the Washington beat the Dream in Atlanta in a semifinal opener.
The Mystics hit all 20 of their free-throw attempts.
Elizabeth Williams finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta, which never led. Alex Bentley’s 3 pulled the Dream within three points midway through the fourth quarter and Tiffany Hayes scored six straight points for the game’s final points in the closing minute.
But Hayes missed an ensuing layup, and Jessica Breland couldn’t hit a straightaway 3 on Atlanta’s last possession before time expired.
Hayes, the Dream’s season scoring leader, had 17 points but was mostly a non-factor until the fourth quarter.
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