Seattle Storm cruise to third title, sweep Washington Mystics in WNBA Finals

Members of the Seattle Storm celebrate after defeating the Washington Mystics 98-82 to win the WNBA Finals at EagleBank Arena on September 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Members of the Seattle Storm celebrate after defeating the Washington Mystics 98-82 to win the WNBA Finals at EagleBank Arena on September 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Seattle Storm cruised to a 2-0 lead over the Washington Mystics in the WNBA Finals, beating the Mystics by double-digits in the first two games.

Wednesday’s Game 3, while not at Key Arena in Seattle, was no different.

The Storm rolled past the Mystics 98-82 on Wednesday night at EagleBank Arena at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, to complete the series sweep and win their third WNBA title.

“It doesn’t feel real yet, honestly,” WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart said after the game. “I think that what we did as a team for these past four months, we had a goal and that was to win a championship.

“Every one of us, one through 12, the coaching staff … helped us reach this point. We’re the champs!”

The Storm rolled to a 16-point lead after the first half behind dominant performances from Stewart and center Natasha Howard. Howard finished the first half with 17 points and eight rebounds, shooting 5-of-6 from the field. Stewart dropped 17 points in the first half, too, going a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.

The Mystics, on the other hand, didn’t have a single player score in double figures, and only had two points off the bench.

Washington did mount a 6-0 run late in the third quarter, and capitalized on a technical foul on Seattle coach Dan Hughes, to cut the lead to 10 points. Yet less than a minute later, the Storm had the lead back to 15 points, completely shutting the Mystics down.

Washington had one last push in the fourth quarter, cutting Seattle’s lead to just five points with less than seven minutes left in the game behind a huge 3-point bucket from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt.

Yet the Storm answered with a quick 8-0 run behind a Stewart and-one and a big Sami Whitcomb 3-pointer put the game right back in Seattle’s control. From there, it was smooth sailing to the 16-point win.

The win for the Storm marks their first WNBA championship since 2010, and the first WNBA title for Hughes.

“I’m still trying to find the right words, and I’m a guy that can usually find the right words,” Hughes said after the game. “But this is a very special moment that I’m a part of this special group, and I think I’m just realizing how special they really were. I’m going to tell you what, they were special in November, January, and when we started April 29th, and they’re special tonight.”

Stewart, Howard combine for big offensive night

Things didn’t slow down for Stewart and Howard after their big first half.

Stewart led the Storm on Wednesday night, finishing the game with 30 points — shooting 11-of-22 from the field — and eight rebounds. Howard was right behind her, dropping a double-double 29 points and 14 rebounds in the win, shooting 11-of-14 from the field. Their combined 59 points alone accounted for more than 61 percent of the Storms’ points.

Alysha Clark finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for the Storm, and veteran Sue Bird finished with 10 points and 10 assists.

Mystics star and former league MVP Elena Delle Donne led Washington with 23 points, shooting 9-of-18 from the field. Point guard Kristi Toliver was right behind her, adding 22 points.

Breanna Stewart unanimously named to All-WNBA First Team, WNBA Finals MVP

Stewart was unanimously selected to the All-WNBA First Team on Wednesday, the league announced at halftime of the game, the only player in the WNBA to be named on all 39 ballots.

Stewart, who was named the WNBA MVP earlier this season, ranked second in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 21.8 points per game, and was third in rebounding with 8.4 rebounds per game.

The 24-year-old was also named the WNBA Finals MVP on Wednesday following her 30-point performance. She became just the sixth player in league history to win the regular-season and Finals MVP award in the same year.

Delle Donne was also named to the All-WNBA First Team on Wednesday. The pair are joined by Liz Cambage of the Dallas Wings, Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury and Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream to round out the team.

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