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Lewis and Clark graduate Briann January shines in Storm’s win over Liberty

May 29, 2022 Updated Sun., May 29, 2022 at 7:43 p.m.

By Percy Allen Seattle Times

So much for that shooting slump.

The Storm broke loose from a three-week offensive drought with a scoring spectacle reminiscent of their heydays when they routinely buried opponents beneath an avalanche of three-pointers and fast-break layups.

But what made the 92-61 victory Sunday against the New York Liberty unique was the unlikely stars who emerged for the Storm.

Jantel Lavender and Spokane native Briann January, who each made their second consecutive start while Sue Bird and Ezi Magbegor are in health and safety protocols, came out firing offensively and set the tone for the Storm’s fourth straight win.

Lavender scored 12 points in the first half and January had 10 of her 12 points before the break, which led the Storm in scoring and paved the way for Seattle’s highest-scoring half since scoring 56 in the season opener.

In the previous six games, the Storm averaged 75.2 points while shooting 37%, which ranked last in the WNBA.

“We haven’t shot well here in awhile,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said a few days ago. “Hopefully, that changes soon.”

It all changed Sunday when the Storm converted 49.3% of its field goals during a 40-minute flurry in front of 10,228 at Climate Pledge Arena when several players feasted on a beleaguered New York team that has lost seven straight game and fell to 1-7.

Lavender made her first four shots with an array of layups and short jumpers. Forward Kaela Davis, who joined the Storm on Saturday on a hardship contract, sank three-pointers from the corner.

And Seattle’s stifling defense held New York to its fewest points in the past six outings.

Unlike the Storm’s 79-71 overtime win against the Liberty on Friday, the decisive runs came early this time.

Seattle began the game with five layups from four different players to take an early 12-5 lead while New York connected on 2 of its first nine shots.

Jewell Loyd produced perhaps the game’s grandest highlight when she wrestled with Crystal Dangerfield on the floor for a loose ball before gaining possession and whipping a pass down the court to a streaking Gabby Williams for an uncontested fast break layup.

On the ensuing possession, Loyd converted a three-pointer for a 21-8 lead, which prompted a New York timeout with 2:50 left in the first quarter.

The Storm led 23-15 at the start of the second quarter and (essentially put the game away with a 16-2 spurt to start the period. January finished the run with an open three-pointer and seconds later she danced around Liberty center Stefanie Dolson for a reverse layup that put Seattle up 39-17.

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