PHOENIX — Breanna Stewart scored 15 of her 17 points in the first quarter and the Seattle Storm routed the Connecticut Sun 79-57 on Thursday night to win the inaugural WNBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Fellow U.S. Olympic gold medalists Jewell Loyd added 16 points and Sue Bird had 10 to help lead Seattle.
The trio of American Olympians, who got back from Tokyo this week after helping the U.S. win a seventh straight gold medal, didn’t look jet lagged at all. They combined to outscore Connecticut 43-40 heading into the fourth quarter when none of them played. Seattle had a 28-point lead at that point.
The in-season tournament saw Connecticut and Seattle finish as the top teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences. Members of the Storm earned in excess of $30,000 per player, while those on Connecticut earned $10,000 per player.
Despite not having the entire team together until game day, Seattle jumped out to a 28-18 lead after the first quarter behind Stewart. She made five of her six shots in the period.
The Storm increased their lead to 46-35 at the half. Loyd got going in the third quarter as the Storm turned the game into a rout. She had seven of the team’s 22 points in the period as Seattle held Connecticut to just five.
DeWanna Bonner scored 11 points and Jonquel Jones added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Sun. They shot just 33% from the field.
Connecticut had no Olympians on its roster and had a few weeks to prepare for this contest.
Seattle reserves Ezi Magbegor and Stephanie Talbot also were in Tokyo, playing for Australia. … The WNBA resumes its season Sunday after a month-long break for the Olympics.
REMEMBER THE MOMENT
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert tossed a ceremonial ball up before the game to commemorate the event. Stewart lost the tip to Jonquel Jones.
CUTTING EDGE TECH
The game featured next generation tracking technology as players from both teams wore sensors that provided data such as how fast players sprinted or how often the jumped. The WNBA also used optical tracking technology that generated three dimensional immersive highlights that were used during the Amazon Prime Video broadcast.
Seattle’s Katie Lou Samuelson returned to the court after getting COVID right before the Olympics. She was supposed to play on the U.S. 3-on-3 team, but contracted the virus a few days before the Tokyo Games began. The Americans won the inaugural gold medal.
Seattle begins a key five-game trip in Chicago on Sunday.