Lifted by Stewart and Bird, Seattle Closes In on a W.N.B.A. Title

Lifted by Stewart and Bird, Seattle Closes In on a W.N.B.A. Title

That’s when Bird, the oldest player in the league, relied on her experience.

Toliver appeared open for a 3, and Bird lunged forward. That opened a lane baseline, but as Toliver was going by, Bird was able to reach from behind and poke the ball free. The mad scramble led to a jump ball between Natasha Howard and Tianna Hawkins, and the ball ended up in the hands of Jewell Loyd.

Seattle was able to run seven seconds off the clock before Alysha Clark was fouled, and her free throw gave Seattle a 2-point lead. Washington was out of timeouts and couldn’t advance the ball into the frontcourt. Atkins’s desperation half-court shot at the buzzer was well off.

Washington believed Bird had fouled Toliver, especially with Seattle having a foul to give.

“I got fouled going baseline,” Toliver said. “I think it was pretty blatant, pretty obvious.”

Washington Coach Mike Thibault said: “Sue Bird took the foul. Officials didn’t understand that Seattle was actually trying to take the foul.”

Bird insisted that Washington’s interpretation was wrong. She was going for the steal, she said.

“Once she went by me, I did the good ol’ Sue Bird move and was lucky to get a piece of the ball,” said Bird, explaining that she had done that move since she was in college. “I knew we had a foul to give, but that was not my intention at all.”

Tip-Ins

Kristi Toliver and Ariel Atkins each added 15 points for Washington, but they made nothing from behind the 3-point line. Toliver was 0 of 6 from deep. “That’s a huge facet of the game, too,” Toliver said. “As a 3-point shooting team, we need some of those to go in.” … Sue Bird finished with only 8 points for Seattle, but she had one of the biggest shots of the game when she banked in a 35-footer midway through the fourth quarter as the shot clock was expiring. The basket gave the Storm a 68-63 lead. … Seattle has won seven straight finals games dating to 2004. The Storm have never lost a finals game at home.

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