Stewart, Seattle Storm sweep Las Vegas Aces for WNBA title
Breanna Stewart had another big scoring game and the Seattle Storm completed a sweep of the WNBA Finals by putting on a show in Game 3 on Tuesday night at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Stewart’s 26 points paced the second-seeded Storm to a 92-59 romp past the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces, completing the abbreviated season that began a few months later than normal because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Storm, picking up their fourth WNBA championship in four trips to the Finals, won the title for the second time in three years. Seattle also was the champion in 2004 and 2010.
Jewell Loyd’s 19 points and nine rebounds, Jordin Canada’s 15 points off the bench and Alysha Clark’s 10 points also gave the Storm a boost. Sue Bird had a quiet game with five points and seven assists.
Stewart poured in 37 and 22 points in the first two games of the best-of-five series. In the clincher, she shot 10-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, and picked up her second Finals MVP trophy. She also won the honor in 2018, then missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn Achilles tendon.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen after rupturing my Achilles,” Stewart said. “You see all the worst things. You see all the worst, and then I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be back to where I was.
“But to be here and see myself playing like this and having so much potential going forward, it’s exciting but also really appreciating what we were able to do this year, being able to play with Sue. I guess it just makes you appreciate more and I’m just appreciating more my basketball career.”
Seattle went 6-0 in the postseason, needing Clark’s basket off a rebound at the buzzer to win the opener of the semifinal round against the Minnesota Lynx. Otherwise, the Storm often appeared to be in cruise control after inconclusive COVID-19 tests involving Seattle players caused the team’s scheduled playoff opener to be delayed for two days last month.
A’ja Wilson racked up 18 points for the Aces. Jackie Young added 11 points and Kayla McBride had nine. Carolyn Swords had a game-high 10 rebounds for Las Vegas.
The Storm led 43-34 at halftime despite shooting 2-for-10 on 3-point attempts.
The margin ballooned to 58-38 by midway through the third quarter. At that time, the Aces had 15 made field goals and 15 turnovers.
“I think our big emphasis was we knew they were going to come and make a push, and it might have been their last push, but we wanted to make sure we made our own,” Stewart said. “We were continuing to be aggressive knowing that we wanted to win, and that was what was on the line was winning a championship, going home with a ring, and that’s what we did, and we continued to just wear them down and do what we do.”
The gap was 75-48 going into the fourth quarter.
Wilson scored 14 points in the first quarter, but those weren’t enough as the Storm led 23-21 after 10 minutes. Wilson didn’t score in the second quarter.
Storm won by 93-80 and 104-91 in the first two games, respectively. The Aces gained the top seed for the playoffs by defeating Seattle on the last day of the regular season. Las Vegas was without injured Dearica Hamby, the league’s top reserve, for the last two games of the semifinals and the entire Finals.
Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said, “Give all the credit in the world to Seattle. They’re a very fine basketball team. They played very well in this series. It was very obvious that they have more weapons than we do. It was clear that they were the better team in this series.” Field Level Media