LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jewell Lloyd scored 26 points, including Seattle’s final six, and the Storm edged the Las Vegas Aces 76-73 on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the WNBA semifinals.
Lloyd made a go-ahead free throw with 1:16 to play, then a jumper for a three-point lead with 34 seconds remaining before the Storm held on in the opener of the best-of-five series. She had 10 of Seattle’s 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Associated Press MVP Breanna Stewart had 24 points and six rebounds for the fourth-seeded Storm, while Tina Charles added 13 points and 18 rebounds. Sue Bird had 12 assists.
Chelsea Gray scored 21 points for the top-seeded Aces. Kelsey Plum added 20, but missed a tying 3-point attempt with 2.9 seconds to play.
Jackie Young finished with 11 points but Aces star A’ja Wilson was held to just eight on 3-of-10 shooting.
Seattle controlled much of the game, leading through the first 3 1/2 quarters after building a 12-point lead in the first half.
Las Vegas didn’t enjoy its first lead until the fourth quarter, when veteran guard Riquna Williams’ 3-pointer from the corner made it 65-64 with 6:09 left.
The Storm wasted no time in attacking early, as they built a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Seattle got balanced scoring, with five players contributing, including Ezi Magbegor coming off the bench to add four.
Las Vegas struggled to find any sort of rhythm, as a pop-and-shot approach left them with a paltry 5-of-18 (27.8%) shooting performance in the first quarter. Both Wilson and Plum went scoreless while the Storm held a 26-15 lead after one.
The Aces responded with a much better defensive effort and seemed to be much more comfortable attacking the rim to climb back into the game.
Led by Wilson, the Aces used a 12-4 run to cut Seattle’s lead to 30-27. Stewart took over from that point, scoring nine of her team’s points during a quarter-ending 13-9 run to send the Storm into the locker room with a 43-36 halftime lead.
The stars came out for the series opener, joining Aces owner Mark Davis and Raiders tight end Darren Waller, fixtures at home games all season. Also in attendance were women’s basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, UFC president Dana White, Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson, and Governor Steve Sisolak.
The Storm and Aces play Game 2 in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
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