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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart lead Storm to sweep of Mystics in WNBA playoffs, advance to semifinals

Percy Allen Seattle Times

Within seconds, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart drained three-pointers from the same spot early in the fourth quarter for a 16-point Storm lead that sent the Climate Pledge Arena crowd into a frenzy.

The 12,490 could sense what came next: a 97-84 victory.

The win gave the No. 4 seed Storm a 2-0 sweep in their first-round playoff series against the No. 5 seed Washington Mystics and a trip to the semifinals for the fifth time in franchise history.

Game 1 in the semis is Sunday against No. 1 seed Las Vegas.

To advance, the Storm needed a collective effort against the Mystics, which pushed them for nearly 35 minutes.

Stewart finished with a game-high tying 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and nearly notched the third triple double in WNBA history. Loyd also tallied 19 points and connected on 5 of 10 three-point attempts.

Sue Bird finished with 15 points, 10 assists and five rebound while Tina Charles had 12 points and Gabby Williams added 14 points before suffering a concussion and leaving in the third quarter.

The Storm, who are 13-2 in last 15 playoff games, took control of the game in the third quarter while building a 71-61 lead.

Washington trimmed its deficit to 85-76 with 4:44 left, but the Storm never let the Mystics back into the game.

Bird sealed the deal with a steal and layup to go up 92-79 with 2:02 remaining.

It was Bird’s best game of the season. The 41-year-old guard came blazing while shooting 3-for-3 on three-pointers for nine points to lead Seattle to a 27-17 lead after the first quarter. It was nearly a perfect start for the Storm, who shot 75% (9 of 12) while holding the Mystics to 33.3% (5 of 15).

Washington answered with a 15-4 run to start the second period and take a 32-31 lead.

The Storm led 45-43 in the first half.