SEATTLE — Alysha Clark scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and three 3-pointers to pace the Seattle Storm to a fourth straight win in a 94-70 victory over the Indiana Fever.
Clark set a Storm record by hitting her first nine shots of the game. The 24-point margin represented Seattle’s largest margin of the young WNBA season, and the Fever’s largest loss.
The win was similar to an 87-82 Storm victory over the Fever 11 days ago — until Indiana failed to recover from the early deficit.
When Seattle opened its five-game homestand against Indiana, May 14, the Fever whittled away at a 12-point advantage before the Storm earned their first win of the streak in the final minutes. This time, the Storm led 47-34 at intermission and used a 10-4 run out of the locker room to extend the lead to 19. Seattle never looked back, pushing the lead to 24 late in the third quarter, and 28 on a 3-pointer by reserve guard Sami Whitcomb with 2:16 left in the contest.
It was the fifth straight game, in fact, that Indiana trailed by double figures. Though the Fever erased those deficits three times, that was not the case Sunday as the Storm shot 61 percent and eclipsed 20 points in each of three quarters to command a 77-55 lead heading to the fourth. The Storm’s 35-of-57 shooting from the floor was the best by an Indiana opponent this season, and the fifth-best by an opponent in Fever history.
“Our defense was pretty bad,” said Indiana’s Candice Dupree, who finished the game with 11 points and five rebounds. “We gave up entirely too many points.”
That sentiment was echoed by head coach Pokey Chatman, “We not beating anybody when we give up 94 points. We have to get some stops and stop trying to be a comeback team.”
Seattle defense played its role, too, slowing the Indiana offense for a second time. In the first meeting, Indiana shot a respectable 44 percent, but turned the ball over 13 times and were outrebounded 34-25. Seattle also made 24-of-27 foul shots. It was more of the same in the second meeting, but without the comeback. Indiana shot 45 percent, but committed a season-high 20 turnovers and got beat on the boards, 27-20.
“We didn’t get off to a comfortable start,” said Chatman. “We gave [Seattle] a lot of momentum early, especially to Clark. That comfort led to a rout. Offensively, we got off to a slow start and couldn’t execute. We came in here leading the league with the fewest turnovers, but 20 turnovers is not getting the job done.”
Jewell Loyd added 13 points for the Storm, with Crystal Langhorne and Breanna Stewart each contributing 12. Stewart had a game-high nine rebounds. All-Star guard Sue Bird added six points and eight assists.
Indiana’s bench (41 points) outscored its starters (29) for the second time this season, led by Tiffany Mitchell with a team-high 13 points. Dupree was the club’s only starter in double figures. Natalie Achonwa was perfect on three shot attempts and contributed 10 points.
The Storm scored the first nine points of the second quarter to command a 13-point advantage, 35-22. Seattle kept Indiana scoreless in the period until a 3-pointer by Briann January with 5:31 left in the half. The Storm led by as many as 14 in the period, 39-25, buckets by Langhorne and Stewart.