Liberty-Storm Preview

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Still looking for the victory that will kick-start their season, the Seattle Storm continue their homestand Wednesday night against the New York Liberty.

The reigning WNBA champion Storm (8-6) have split the first two games of their six-game homestand and are coming off a 69-67 defeat to the Mercury on Sunday that was also their first home loss in six games this year.

Jordin Canada had a chance to tie the game with 1.3 seconds left after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, but she missed the first, and the Storm failed to get the offensive rebound when she intentionally missed the third.

"We gave ourselves a chance to get back into the game and send it into overtime late," coach Dan Hughes told the Seattle Times. "There were a lot of things we did right, but we didn't start well."

The Storm continue to play without starters Sue Bird (knee) and 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart (Achilles), who are both out long-term, while guard Jewell Loyd is out at least one more week with an ankle injury suffered in their 60-56 loss to Las Vegas on June 25.

Sami Whitcomb scored a season-high 13 points to go with a career high-tying six rebounds and five assists in her second start in Loyd's place, but recently named WNBA Player of the Month Natasha Howard was held to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.

"They are very adaptable," Hughes told ESPN about his team, which is playing its home games at two different venues while KeyArena undergoes renovations. "If you have practice time with them, they value it. And they just have big hearts."

The Liberty (5-7) are seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season as they continue their three-game road swing. New York opened the trek with its largest victory of the season Sunday, cruising past the Dream 74-58.

Tina Charles scored six of her 24 points in a game-breaking 10-0 run to start the second quarter as the Liberty opened a 29-16 lead. Charles finished with 17 points in the first half, Atlanta native and rookie Asia Durr chipped in 11, and New York held Atlanta to 10 fourth-quarter points and 18 points in the paint for the game.

That performance was a stark contrast to the Liberty's season-long woes on defense. They are still last in the WNBA in scoring defense at 82.8 points per game but improved to 3-0 when holding teams under 70 points after doing so in back-to-back contests.

Stewart averaged 25 points to pace the Storm in a three-game sweep of the Liberty in last year's series.