BRADENTON, Fla. — Breanna Stewart put forth a career effort to get the Seattle Storm back to the WNBA Finals.
Stewart scored a career playoff-high 31 points — tying Seattle’s franchise playoff record — and Sue Bird had 16 points and nine assists, and the Storm beat Minnesota 92-71 on Sunday to sweep the Lynx and advance to the championship round for the second time in three seasons. The Storm won the title in 2018.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be back,” Stewart said. “Be back with Seattle and be back in the finals and I can’t wait for Game 1 Friday.”
Stewart, who missed all of last season while recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon added six rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. Mercedes Russell tied her season high with 10 points for the No. 2 seed Storm.
The Storm will play either top-seeded Las Vegas or No. 7 seed Connecticut in the Finals, which begin Friday. Seattle lost both regular season matchups with the Aces — including an 86-84 loss in the regular season finale — and won its two regular season games against the Sun by an average of 18 points.
Bird and Stewart combined to score or assist on 13 points during a 17-0 run that gave Seattle a 24-8 lead when Sami Whitcomb made a layup with 54.2 seconds left in the first quarter. Stewart made a short jumper to push the Storm’s lead to 18 points with 1:05 left in the first half but Minnesota scored 16 of the next 21 points, including six by Crystal Dangerfield and two 3-pointers by Odyssey Sims, to make it 48-41 about three minutes into the third quarter.
Stewart answered with back-to-back layups and, after Jewell Loyd made another layup, Stewart converted a three-point play and then hit a 3 in a 12-0 run that made it 60-41 about four minutes later and Minnesota trailed by double figures the rest of the way.
The fourth-seeded Lynx, who came in averaging a playoff-low 11.0 turnovers per game, committed 19 on Sunday. They made 27 of 59 from 3-point range in the first two games of the series but hit just 7 of 22 (31.8%) on Sunday.
“This was a special season with a special group,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “No one thought we’d get past the Seattle Storm. We believed we could be competitive. We were confident. Today’s game was disappointing in so many ways. Didn’t see that coming.”
Aces take control in third, beat Sun in Game 4
Angel McCoughtry scored 16 of her 29 points in the third quarter as Las Vegas took control and the Aces beat the Sun in Game 4 of the best-of-five WNBA semifinals.
McCoughtry finished with six assists, five rebounds and three steals. A’ja Wilson, the 2020 league MVP, had 18 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for top-seeded Las Vegas and Danielle Robinson also scored 18 points.
McCoughtry scored 14 of the first 18 second-half points for Las Vegas and assisted on the remaining four as the Aces turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 55-46 lead midway through the third quarter and Connecticut trailed by at least nine points the rest of the way.
Las Vegas was without reigning two-time WNBA sixth woman of the year, Dearica Hamby, who will likely miss the remainder of the playoffs with a knee injury.
Jasmine Thomas made a career-high six 3-pointers on 11 attempts and finished with 25 points for the Sun. Alyssa Thomas added 15 points and DeWanna Bonner had 10 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
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