The New York Liberty started strong and never relinquished their lead as they defeated the Seattle Storm with an 81-66 victory on Sunday at Climate Pledge Arena.
Right from the beginning, the Liberty took control of the game, scoring the first seven points and establishing a double-digit lead in the first quarter. They maintained their advantage throughout the afternoon, thwarting any attempts by the Storm to catch up.
In the second half, Jewell Loyd of the Storm came alive, showcasing her scoring prowess by contributing 19 of her 27 points during this period, with 13 of them coming in the third quarter. Ezi Magbegor added 12 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for Seattle, while Kia Nurse chipped in with 10 points.
Brianna Stewart, playing against her former team, led the way for the Liberty with 20 points. Fourteen of her points came in an impressive first quarter, where she shot 6-of-8 from the field. However, the Storm tightened their defense on Stewart for the remainder of the game, limiting her to just six more points on 2-of-11 shooting. Despite this, Stewart made her presence felt across the court, contributing eight rebounds, six assists, and five steals.
New York’s suffocating defense kept Seattle scoreless for the first three and a half minutes of the game until Kia Nurse drained a 3-pointer. The Liberty responded with another six consecutive points, extending their lead to 13-3. By the end of the first quarter, they held a comfortable 26-14 advantage.
Although the Storm managed to narrow the gap to nine points at 31-22 midway through the second quarter, New York finished the first half strongly, going on a 13-5 run to make it 44-27 at halftime.
The Liberty continued to build on their lead, reaching a 21-point advantage at 57-36 halfway through the third quarter. However, the Storm displayed resilience and mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, reducing the deficit to single digits at 66-57 with 6:31 remaining on the clock.
Yet, the Liberty responded emphatically, launching a 7-1 surge to rebuild their lead to 15 points at 73-58 and maintained control for the remainder of the game.
After the game, Stewart was asked about Jewell Loyd’s play this season.
“Jewell is playing really well, nothing that I don’t think anyone knew, but she is taking tough shots and continuing to represent Seattle. It’s weird playing against her, but is happy to see her play well,” said Stewart.
Loyd respond with “Obviously when you have a bond with someone and you been bestfriend with them, done everything with them and done so much on the court it’s weird. But, you have so much more respect because you’ve seen it, but I’m honestly able to witness greatness personally upfront and close, and now I’m able to share that with everyone else. To see what it really takes to be one of the greatest. So, it’s weird, but at the same time we compete and we always competed in practice while we were here, but at the end of the day we have to still do our jobs.”
The victory improves the New York Liberty’s record to 11-4, while the Seattle Storm falls to 4-12. The Liberty’s dominant performance demonstrates their ability to start fast and maintain control, while the Storm’s spirited comeback in the fourth quarter was not enough to overcome the deficit.