SEATTLE — Jewell Loyd scored 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting Sunday to pace the Seattle Storm to an 87-82 home-opening win over the Indiana Fever. Seattle avenged an opening-night loss in Los Angeles on Saturday, and won on its home court to even its record and beat the Fever at KeyArena for the first time since 2013.
The Fever forced 20 turnovers, but got into foul trouble and watched Seattle shoot 48 percent from the floor and hit 24-of-27 attempts from the charity stripe.
“We need to learn to be more disciplined on the defensive end,” said Pokey Chatman, coaching her first game with Indiana. “We need to continue being disruptive on defense, but we have to be more disciplined. When you put [Seattle] on the line and you don’t rebound, that’s not a good formula.”
The Storm was aided by a 34-25 rebounding edge that included 14 offensive rebounds.
Seattle used a 15-4 run to break open a tight game and lead by 12, 57-45, late in the third period. The Fever answered though, with seven straight points to end the quarter. Using that end-of-period momentum, Indiana got seven points from Tiffany Mitchell during an 11-4 run to whittle the lead to 63-56. Loyd’s three-point play extended the lead to double figures again, but Mitchell, Shenise Johnson and Briann January helped the Fever keep pace.
After Crystal Langhorne staked the Storm to a 76-69 advantage, January scored six straight points to pull Indiana within one. Mitchell erased the 12-point lead completely with a driving baseline layin to give Indiana a 77-76 lead with 2:14 to play.
From the 1:31 mark of the third, Indiana was carried January, Johnson, Mitchell with the trio combing for the Fever’s last 37 points.
“We made mistakes and dug ourselves too big a hole,” said Johnson. “We still had a chance to win.”
The Indiana lead was short-lived, however, as Breanna Stewart buried a 3-pointer with 1:40 left to push the Storm back into the lead for good. Stewart finished with 15 points for Seattle and Langhorne had 17. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis pitched in 12 points off the bench.
Johnson scored a career-high 24 points before fouling out with 4.8 seconds to play. January, in a return to her native Washington, hit a 3-pointer at the final buzzer to match her career high with 23 points. Mitchell had 17, 14 in the second half.
The Storm led 37-34 after an evenly matched first half which featured nine ties and six lead changes. Indiana’s 28-23 margin on a bucket by Johnson was the largest lead of the opening half, until Seattle led 37-32 just before the break on a basket by Mosqueda-Lewis.
Indiana got eight first-half points from veteran Candice Dupree, in her debut with the Fever. Indiana lost its opening game under new head coach Pokey Chatman, opening its season on the West Coast for the first time in history.
The Fever continue their West Coast trip at Phoenix on Wednesday. Indiana hosts Connecticut in its home opener – Opening Night Delivered by Papa John’s – next Saturday night (7:00 p.m.) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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