Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Seattle Storm sweeps Washington Mystics to win the 2018 WNBA Championship

Published on September 12, 2018

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Led by post players Breanna Stewart and Natasha Howard, the top-seeded Seattle Storm (26-8) swept the Washington Mystics (22-12) to win a third national championship for the West Coast franchise with a 98-82 win Wednesday night at George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

The Storm extended their league-record WNBA Finals winning streak to eight games. The victory marked the franchise’s first postseason road win since Sept, 16, 2010, when the team defeated Atlanta (87-84) to earn its second title.

The Storm eliminated Phoenix in a down-to-the-wire best-of-five series in the semifinals. Seattle won the first two games of the Finals in Seattle against the Mystics before completing the sweep Wednesday night.

Stewart, who led her team in scoring with 30 points plus eight rebounds, also earned the Finals MVP award, adding to her season MVP honor.

Howard, a fifth-year pro, was also on fire with an impressive 29 points plus 14 rebounds. The Storm acquired Howard from the Minnesota Lynx back in February and the Florida State product did not disappoint over the summer. She had her best season so far averaging 13.2 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. Previously, her best year was her first season when she played for the Indiana Fever and averaged 7.0 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per contest.

“Oh my gosh, she was unreal tonight,” said forward Alysha Clark about Howard. “She’s been unreal all season, but tonight, I’ve seen her show a little emotion, she’s pretty steady, even keeled, but tonight, when she got hype, I was like yeah, yeah, she’s feeling it.”

Clark was also in double digits for the Storm with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“It’s surreal. I still feel like I’m in a dream right now,” said Clark about winning the title. “I’m like, did this really happen? It’s amazing. You work so hard for this as an athlete and a lot of people don’t ever get to this point. To know that we are here and that we won and that we did it, it’s a tremendous feeling.”

Veteran guard Sue Bird, the oldest player in the league and a member of the Storm’s first two championship teams, earned a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. She played with a broken nose protected by a face mask but guided her team without a problem.

Clark also had high praise for Bird.

“Build a statue already. She’s amazing. She’s an amazing leader, an amazing person, an amazing friend. She deserves this man because she, from the very beginning, she’s led us and been so calm, so poised throughout the entire season. She’s been amazing leader for us. I’m super happy we got to get when for her.”

Washington trailed for most of the game as Seattle dominated beginning in the middle of the first quarter. The Storm led the Mystics 20-16 after the first ten minutes. At the break, the Storm had a 17-point lead to go into halftime with a 47-30 advantage.

Washington attempted to chip away at Seattle’s lead in the third quarter but then suffered a blow when starting center LaToya Sanders went down with a left ankle injury late in third quarter.

“I mean right now, we’re just treating it as an ankle sprain,” said Sanders postgame. “I’ll know more tomorrow. I don’t think it’s anything, you know, that will keep me out for an extended amount of time.”

The Mystics seemed to come to life at the beginning of the fourth quarter, going on a 12-3 run to get within five points of their opponent. However, the Storm shut down the momentum with a run fueled by offense from Sami Whitcomb and Howard. Whitcomb had back-to-back steals and a crucial three-point shot to give Seattle the verve they needed to close out the game strong.

Only two Washington players finished in double figures. Starting forward Elena Delle Donne had 23 points plus five rebounds and four assists. Guard Kristi Toliver finished with 22 points plus five assists.

“I think that we just didn’t really focus and stuff like that,” said Sanders about her team’s performance. “Even though Breanna Stewart is a great player, she doesn’t necessarily do a lot of one-on-one…A lot of stuff is she’s coming off the screens to just turn around and shoot it. That’s the beauty of their team. The chemistry, the ball movement, the comfort level with each player to know where they’re going to be at before the pass is even made. So, congratulations to Seattle and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

The Storm’s championship parade will take place Sunday, Sept. 16. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. PT and will end at KeyArena. The team will make its way into KeyArena for a rally, hosted by Seattle play-by-play talent Dick Fain and color analyst Elise Woodward.

All-WNBA Teams

At halftime, the league announced the All-WNBA Teams for the season. Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi was voted to the first team for the tenth time, extending her WNBA record for first team selections.

In honor of their accomplishments, each member of the First Team will receive $10,000 and each member of the Second Team will receive $5,000.

Notes

  • Game 3 was held at EagleBank Arena on the campus of George Mason University due to ongoing renovations at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. and scheduling conflicts at the Charles E. Smith Center at George Washington University.
  • Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP, directed Seattle to its second-best record (26-8) in franchise history and the top seed in the WNBA Playoffs. The 6-4 forward averaged a career-best 21.8 points per game, ranking second in the league, to go along with 8.4 boards per affair. In addition to setting the franchise single-season record for points (742) and field goals (270), Stewart broke her own single-season franchise record for 20-plus point games, boasting 22 on the year.
  • Sixteen-year veteran Sue Bird led the Storm with a career-best 7.1 assists per game this season, while fourth-year guard Jewell Loyd finished second on the team in scoring with 15.5 points per affair. The 2018 Most Improved Player, Natasha Howard added another dimension to the Storm this season, recording career-high averages of 13.2 points, 6.4 boards and 2.0 blocks per outing.
  • Mystics rookie guard Ariel Atkins finished the postseason with a WNBA rookie record 137 points scored, including nine in Game Three against Seattle. Atkins scored 15+ points in six-of-nine games this postseason.
  • Washington won a franchise-record four games this postseason.

This post is part of the thread: 2018 WNBA Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


 

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