It was Sylvia Fowles Day in Minnesota, but Friday night belonged to Tina Charles and the Storm.
The sold-out crowd of 12,134 gathered at the Target Center to see Fowles perhaps for one last time and pay their respect to the Lynx star who is retiring after the season.
Charles, who spent the bulk of her career battling with Fowles for WNBA supremacy among post players, had a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds to lead Seattle to a 96-69 victory and upstage her longtime rival and friend.
“Syl has meant a lot to my game,” Charles said. “She’s someone that I was always chasing as far as her dominance and as far as what she was able to do for every team that she’s been on. For me, that’s what I wanted to reflect.”
Five days earlier, the Storm took part in an emotional home send off for Sue Bird, which ended in a bittersweet loss to the Las Vegas Aces.
“We love Syl, but this is a big game for us,” said coach Noelle Quinn, who returned from a two-game absence due to COVID-19.
With the win, the Storm secured the No. 4 seed in the first round of the playoffs and will host the No. 5 seed Washington Mystics. Game 1 in the best-of-three series is Thursday and Game 2 is Aug. 21 at Climate Pledge Arena.
If necessary, the Mystics will host Game 3 Aug. 24.
In their previous outing, the Storm outran the Chicago Sky for a 111-100 win while setting a WNBA record 37 assists and tying the most points in franchise history.
Against the Lynx, Seattle continued its offensive dominance (29 assists and 52.8% shooting from the field) and held Minnesota 36.5% shooting to sweep the season series 4-0.
Nine days ago when the Storm beat the Lynx 89-77, they led 30-18 after the first quarter and the Lynx never recovered.
This time, Charles who scored 12 points and Loyd who had 11 of her 21 points each outscored Minnesota in the first quarter to give Seattle a 30-10 advantage.
The Lynx pulled to within 38-26 late in the second quarter and the Storm closed out the first half with a 7-2 run for a 45-28 lead at the break.
Minnesota never got closer than 15 points in the second half while Seattle built a 32-point lead (89-57) late in the fourth quarter.
Breanna Stewart tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds and Briann January had 10 points, including three 3-pointers off the bench.
Fowles finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota (14-21), which is still in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“It’s very overwhelming, but Im so appreciative,” Fowles said in an postgame interview with ESPN reporter Holly Rowe. “I didn’t want none of this attention, but I didn’t realize how much love and how much appreciation these fans have for me across this league and I never want to take that for granted.”
• During a pregame celebration, the Lynx Minnesota honored Lynx star Sylvia Fowles as well as Storm players Sue Bird and Briann January who are retiring after the season.
• Jewell Loyd set a Storm single-season record with 76 three-pointers, eclipsing the old record of 72 set by Sue Bird in 2016.
• The WNBA released playoff dates and the best-of-five semifinals will be played on Aug. 28, 31, Sept. 4, 6 and 8 while the WNBA Finals will be held on September 11, 13, 15, 18 and 20. The last two round of the playoffs adhere to a 2-2-1 format with the higher seed hosting the first two games and the fifth, if needed.
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