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Defense Leads Way as Storm Downs Las Vegas, 78-65

June 8, 2024 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Seattle Storm News Release

LAS VEGAS - A milestone moment for Nneka Ogwumike. A milestone moment for Jewell Loyd.

And a measuring-stick victory for the Seattle Storm.

Ogwumike scored 12 points, including the 6,000th of her career; Loyd had 25, including her 5,000th, and the Storm extended their winning streak to six games on Friday night by beating the Las Vegas Aces, 78-65.

Seattle's previous five wins (7-3) came against teams that were.500 or lower at game time. This one came against the two-time defending champions, who started the night inside Michelob ULTRA Light Arena averaging a league-high 87.7 points. The Storm kept the Aces 22 points below that total.

Las Vegas (5-3) was coming off a 95-point outing at Dallas on Wednesday, and its lowest point total prior to Friday was 74.

Skylar Diggins-Smith poured in 21 points for Seattle and dished seven assists. She tallied 19 of those after halftime and 11 during the fourth quarter, with six in a row to break it open inside the final four minutes: a 3-pointer from 24 feet away on the right side to make it 66-59, and then a driving scoop lay-in and-one to make it 69-59 with just 3:40 to go.

Ogwumike made it a double-double with 11 rebounds-her second of the season. Ezi Magbegor was even better in both departments, with 14 points and 15 rebounds for her third double-double of the year.

The victory was the second in a series of five straight Commissioner's Cup qualifying games, giving Seattle a 2-0 record with a plus-31 point differential. The Aces dropped to 1-1 in Cup qualifying with a plus-1 differential.

Ogwumike became the 15th player in WNBA history and the fifth youngest (at age 33 and 11 months) to reach the 6,000 mark. Coming into Friday, she needed just five more points, and got the last two of those on a pair of free throws with 1:44 left in the first half.

Loyd came in 20 points away from 5K. She scored 15 during the first half and got four more in the third quarter. A driving five-foot bank shot from straight in front of the hoop with 8:17 left in the game put her at 5,001, and she then added the ensuing free throw to complete a traditional three-point play. She is the 25th player in the WNBA and fifth-youngest to reach 5,000.

More significantly, those particular three points by Loyd gave the Storm some valuable breathing room after Las Vegas trimmed a 14-point third-quarter deficit all the way down to one at 54-53 on a turnaround running jump shot by rookie Kate Martin with 8:31 remaining.

But that was as close as the Aces came. At 57-55, Loyd nailed a 3-pointer from the left side. At 60-57, Ogwumike drained a dagger from the top of the key. Then, at 63-59, Diggins-Smith hit the trey that started her game-breaking 6-0 spurt.

The Storm led for almost the entire game. The only times they trailed were 2-0 and 4-2 in the first quarter, then 19-17 and 22-19 in the second.

A 9-0 scoring burst turned that last deficit into a 28-22 lead. Loyd started it with a 3-pointer to tie it at 22-22, then a driving lay-in by Magbegor off a feed from Sami Whitcomb put Seattle ahead for good at 24-22. Another Magbegor lay-in off a Loyd assist, and a lay-in by Ogwumike off a Whitcomb assist capped the run. The Storm took a 36-28 lead into halftime.

A 10-4 run to start the third quarter stretched it out to 46-32. A 13-2 scoring surge helped Las Vegas climb back in, getting within 48-45, and it was still just a three-point Storm lead at 54-51 entering the fourth quarter.


- Along with her 25 points, Loyd pulled down nine rebounds. Her point total included a perfect 9 of 9 at the free throw line.

- Friday's game was her 300th in a Storm uniform, the fourth player with that many.

- The Storm had a solid night at the line, hitting 20 of 22 (90.9 percent). That was its highest percentage of the season and first time of the year shooting better than the 90%.

- Magbegor had three more blocked shots. That makes it 11-straight games, dating back to last year's season finale, with multiple blocks in a game. She got her 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and handed out five assists.

- With Magbegor and Ogwumike both in double digits, the Storm had a 43-37 advantage on the boards.

- Seattle's defense limited Las Vegas to just 31.7 percent shooting from the floor (21 of 67).


The Storm visit Minnesota on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time (Fox 13+ / Prime Video Washington). Those teams opened the season with a home-and-home set, and the Lynx won both: 83-70 in Seattle, 102-93 in double overtime in Minneapolis.

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