Jewell Loyd erupted for 12 of her 16 points in the final five minutes to lead the Seattle Storm in a come-from-behind, 86-83 win over the Washington Mystics on Thursday in the opener of a first-round WNBA playoff series.
In what was a back-and-forth contest throughout -- with 15 lead changes and 11 ties -- fifth-seeded Washington built a five-point lead midway through the fourth quarter when Elena Delle Donne scored two of her game-high 26 points.
But the fourth-seeded Storm comeback began when Loyd knocked down a 3-pointer. She shot only 2 of 6 from beyond the arc, but both of Loyd's 3-pointers were critical.
She connected on her second trey with 2:56 to go, tying the score at 78 and igniting a stretch in which she scored nine consecutive Seattle points. Loyd scored on a mid-range jumper, then a driving floater with 38.1 seconds remaining that gave Seattle the lead for good at 82-81.
Delle Donne was excellent in the fourth quarter with 11 points and shot 11 of 17 for the night. However, her 3-point attempt with 16.1 seconds remaining and Washington trailing by three points after a pair of Loyd free throws hit the back of the rim and caromed off.
Delle Donne was one of four Mystics to score in double-figures along with Ariel Atkins and Natasha Cloud, who recorded 16 each, and Shakira Austin, who added 12.
Four Storm also scored in double figures, led by Breanna Stewart's 23 points. Stewart shot 8 of 17 from the floor, and Seattle finished at 50.8 percent as a team (32 of 63).
Storm guard Sue Bird scored 10 points as she began her final WNBA postseason, and Gabby Williams went for 12 points. Stewart finished with a double-double, grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds.
Game 2 in the best-of-three series is set for Sunday in Seattle. If necessary, Game 3 would be played Wednesday in Washington.
--Field Level Media