Storm look to build momentum against Liberty (Jul 5, 2017)

BY AP • July 5, 2017

Seattle forward Breanna Stewart is hitting her stride just in time as the Storm return home to face the swooning New York Liberty on Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle.

Stewart scored a season-high 30 points on Saturday to help the Storm beat Dallas 89-69 in Arlington, Texas, and end a three-game losing streak. Stewart also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Crystal Langhorne added 19 points, Sue Bird totaled 12 points and eight assists, and Alysha Clark scored 10 points for Seattle (7-8).

Stewart is one of two players in the league (along with Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles) currently in the top seven in points, rebounds and blocks per game. Langhorne set a season high for points as well against the Wings on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. Her 64.6 field-goal percentage is second in the WNBA.

Bird notched her 2,500th assist in the game after entering two shy of the milestone. The 15-year veteran trails only Ticha Penicheiro (2,599) on the WNBA's career assists list.

The Storm had 29 assists as a team, tying the franchise record. Tuesday's game against New York begins a five-game homestand for Seattle.

New York heads to the Pacific Northwest on the heels of an 81-72 loss at Atlanta on Sunday.

Tina Charles finished with 21 points and Sugar Rodgers scored all 11 of her points in the fourth quarter for the Liberty (7-7), who have lost three in a row and four of five and are in the middle of one of their most difficult stretches of the schedule.

Sunday's loss was the second of a four-game road trip that will see New York travel to Phoenix on July 9 before heading home to play Chicago on June 14.

"We need a win on the road," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "We've lost three in a row. We have been playing better defense, but we have to play better on offense. We have to make shots and not turn over the ball in key times. That has been our bugaboo -- we haven't had enough positive possessions."

The Liberty had a season-best four-game win streak in early June after they started the year 2-3. They haven't won a game in the last two weeks and counting and enter Thursday night's game with the fourth-most turnovers in the WNBA (14.2 per game).

New York has struggled offensively as well, ranking second-to-last in assists per game (15.4) and ninth in points per game (79.4).

"We need to start the game with the effort we had in the second half," Charles said of the loss to Atlanta. "We have to continue to hold ourselves accountable -- we know each other's strengths and weaknesses and we have to maximize those and get those out of one another and we will be fine."

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