Breanna Stewart scored 30 points and Natasha Howard added 29 as the Seattle Storm defeated the Washington Mystics 98-82 in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals to sweep the series and earn the third league championship in franchise history.
Seattle blew open the game in the second quarter, taking a 17-point lead into halftime and never looking back from there to put away the series.
Brewing Storm Becomes Dominant Force
For Stewart, who was named both the WNBA Finals and league MVP, the victory was the culmination of a turnaround she was ready to see in Seattle.
�Way at the beginning, I said at the start, I was tired of losing,� Stewart told the Seattle Times. �So to end it this way, there�s nothing better. Best feeling in the world.�
The Storm didn�t come into the season as one of the favorites to win a title. But as the season wore on, they assumed that role, earning the league�s best regular season record and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
That gave Seattle a bye to the semifinal round, where they nearly blew a 2-0 series lead against the Phoenix Mercury before winning a decisive Game 5 to advance to the final.
Against the Mystics, they wouldn�t allow things to get that close. Seattle won two of the three games by double digits and appeared to be in control throughout the series, seemingly having answers for everything Washington could throw at them.
In Game 3, it was three-point shooting that proved to be the difference, with the Storm going 13-for-26 from beyond the arc.
�Having perimeter-oriented post players makes it hard to guard us,� Stewart told ESPN. �I wanted to be aggressive early and kind of show what was going on here, and what we were after. We didn�t want to have to come back for Game 4.�
For 37-year-old point guard Sue Bird, this marked the third time she has won a title with the Storm. Bird contributed 10 points and 10 assists in Wednesday night�s clincher.
�We didn�t have this target on our backs and this pressure looming all year,� Bird said after the game. �We have just been figuring it out as we�ve gone. As it turns out, we�re pretty good.�
Mystics Look Ahead to Bright Future
While the result was disappointing, the season was still a successful campaign for the Mystics, who reached the WNBA Finals for the first time in the franchise�s 21-year history. Despite suffering from a knee injury, star forward Elena Delle Donne poured in 23 points to lead Washington in a losing effort.
�We know how great the teams are and how much better we have to be,� Delle Donne said after the loss. �We�re not just going to be satisfied that we got here this season � we�ve got to improve because everyone else is.�
Washington head coach Mike Thibault didn�t dwell on the loss, saying that fans should be excited that they have a team they can be excited about moving forward.
�It�s already in the past,� Thibault told reporters. �We�re already onto the next thing.�