LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Too much Jewell Loyd down the stretch — that’s what doomed the Aces on Sunday in the opening game of their WNBA semifinal series against the Seattle Storm.
Loyd scored the Storm’s final six points, including a free-throw with 1:16 to play that snapped a tie and a long jumper from the left side with 34 seconds remaining, for a 76-73 lead — the final score.
Loyd finished with 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting, including 4-for-10 on 3-pointers, before an announced crowd of 9,944 at Michelob Ultra Arena.
Loyd’s long jumper came over the outstretched arm of A’ja Wilson, the Aces top defender and inside force. Loyd said she knew Wilson was coming at her to get a block, but she maintained her concentration.
“Just get to my spots,” said Loyd, who had 10 of her team’s 16 points in the final quarter. “That was my thought process. … I’ve taken that shot millions of times. A’ja’s a very hard person to go at. She’s very long. As long as I held my follow-through, I thought it was a good shot.”
Kelsey Plum had two chances to tie the game; she missed a 3-pointer inside a minute and then another with 4.9 seconds remaining.
Plum had 20 points (8-for-23, including 2-for-10 from 3-point range), and teammate Chelsea Gray had 21.
Gray was about the only Aces offensive force who shot with any accuracy. She was 9-for-15 overall (60%); the Aces shot 41.8% (28-for-68).
Breanna Stewart had 24 points and six rebounds for the fourth-seeded Storm. Tina Charles added 13 points and 18 rebounds. Sue Bird had 12 assists.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Wednesday at Michelob Ultra Arena.