WNBA Finals: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird set record-breaking nights for Storm in Game 1 win

The Las Vegas Aces erased another double-digit playoff deficit in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Friday night. Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart wasn’t going to let it go farther than that.

Stewart, the 2018 league MVP who is finishing her first season back from an Achilles tear, went on her own 11-point streak to start the fourth quarter. It lifted the Storm out of a one-possession game to a 93-80 victory. The best-of-five series continues Sunday afternoon.

The fourth quarter fire set Stewart to a record-breaking night as the first player with at least 35 points and 15 rebounds. Storm veteran Sue Bird had already set her own record earlier in the game for assists in a playoff outing.

Stewart, Bird set WNBA playoffs records

From left: Jewell Loyd, Epiphanny Prince, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart in yellow jerseys on the court.

Stewart scored 37 points on 15-of-24 shooting and made 5-of-8 3-pointers. She added 15 rebounds, two assists and four blocks. The former UConn star became the first player with at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a WNBA playoff game and was two points from breaking the all-time playoff scoring record.

Bird, the 17-year veteran who already has three titles with the Storm, set a Finals and playoff record with 16 assists. It’s also her career high. She had 10 of them in the first half and dished out four in the fourth quarter to Stewart as she scored 15 of her points in the frame.

Jewell Loyd scored 28 and Epiphanny Prince came off the bench to add 11. Seattle held a 17-point lead at the half and held off the Aces in the final 10 minutes after they tied it.

Angel McCoughtry led the Aces with 20 points and nine rebounds. A’ja Wilson scored 19 with six assists.

Storm turn on switch in second quarter

The Aces may have started on a nice 8-0 run, but as Stewart told ESPN’s Holly Rowe at the break the Storm have been here before. They could, and did, weather it.

The Storm turned a one-possession game, 23-21, after the first quarter into a 17-point one by halftime. McCoughtry laid in three 3-pointers to help the Aces to a 34-31 lead, but it was all Seattle for the next four minutes as the Storm uncorked a 18-0 run.

By the end of the first 20 minutes, the Storm had unleashed a 26-6 run. Bird had 10 assists, a Finals record for a half, whereas the Aces had nine combined.

The rest of the comps weren’t much better. The Storm shot 64.7% overall, including hitting 6-of-11 from 3. The Aces were surprisingly sharp from deep, hitting 7-of-12, but that was the majority of their offense. They made 13-of-44 shots overall (29.5%) and were led by McCoughtry’s 12 points.

Aces erase another double-digit deficit

This is what the Aces did throughout their full five-game series with the Connecticut Sun in the semifinals. They bounced back and erased a 16-point deficit to advance. And in Game 1, they erased a 19-point deficit by keeping the Storm to 12 points in the third quarter.

Their offense rattled off a 18-2 run late in the quarter to go into the final 10 minutes trailing by a bucket, 69-67. McCoughtry told Rowe at the break her team had to get the jitters out since it was the first Finals for them. The 11-year veteran is looking for her first title after leading the Atlanta Dream to the Finals three times.

Danielle Robinson got the and-1 to come within one point and hit the backend of free throws 10 seconds later to tie the game, 67-67. The Aces never took over the lead.

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