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Aces can’t weather Storm, swept in WNBA Finals

Updated October 6, 2020 - 8:54 pm

Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart went to the bench with three fouls early in the second quarter of Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Tuesday.

It was the opportunity the Aces had been looking for the entire series, but they couldn’t take advantage.

The Storm outscored the Aces 16-9 the rest of the quarter with Stewart watching. She returned in the third quarter and finished with 26 points to lead Seattle to a 92-59 victory and a three-game sweep of the Aces at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Stewart won her second finals MVP award for the Storm, who claimed their second championship in three years. They have won a record 11 straight finals games and joined Houston and Minnesota as the only franchises with four titles.

Jewell Loyd added 19 points for the Storm. Sue Bird, who has been with Seattle for all four titles dating to 2004, had seven assists and finished with 33 for the series.

The Storm’s average margin of victory in the three games was almost 20 points.

“I just want to say congratulations to Seattle,” Aces guard Kayla McBride said. “They’re a great team. They have a lot of experience winning together. Stewart was on a mission, and Sue was Sue.”

Stewart, also the finals MVP in 2018, has scored 20 or more points in a record six straight finals games. She averaged 28.3 points and 7.7 rebounds against Las Vegas and shot 62.7 percent from the field, including 65 percent (13 of 20) from 3-point range.

Aces star A’ja Wilson scored 14 of her 18 points in the first quarter and added six rebounds and four assists. She was the only Aces player to reach double-figure scoring until the fourth quarter, when Jackie Young joined her with 11. Carolyn Swords had 10 rebounds.

Angel McCoughtry, the Aces’ second-leading scorer, finished with seven points. She was making her fourth finals appearance but is 0-12 in those games.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Turnovers doom Aces

One reason Stewart’s absence in the second quarter didn’t hurt the Storm was a rash of Las Vegas turnovers.

The Aces had five in the final 2:31 of the first half and six during the 7:13 that Stewart was on the bench in the quarter.

“That was basically the end point of the game,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunity. Like Angel said in one of the huddles, it just sucks the life out of you when you keep turning the ball over.”

The Aces, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, finished with 18 turnovers, their second straight game with at least 15.

2. Closing out quarters

Wilson has talked all season about the importance of closing out quarters.

The Aces had leads of 7-0, 11-2 and 13-4, but the Storm went on an 11-2 run in the final 3:58 of the first quarter, then scored the first four points of the second.

“That was a huge deal,” Wilson said. “That can switch up a game.We knew we were going to have to close out quarters, but it’s not easy to do.”

The Storm, the No. 2 seed, put the game away by outscoring the Aces 32-14 in the third quarter for a 75-48 lead.

3. ‘Let the confetti hit you’

The Aces’ roster was full of players making their first finals experience, and they vowed to learn from it and come back stronger.

“The biggest thing I learned from this is sometimes you have to let the confetti hit you,” Wilson said. “I’ve been in a lot of situations where the confetti fell on me, and it was in my favor. The confetti hit me, and I’m like, ‘OK, that’s not for us. We’re going to try it again.’ Sometimes you have to feel that to know it’s not easy.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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