Basketball

Sue Bird breaks assists record as Seattle Storm take WNBA Finals opener

Breanna Stewart scored 37 points as Seattle withstood a third-quarter comeback from the Las Vegas Aces to draw first blood in the 'Wubble'

By Rory Jiwani ·

Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart combined to devastating effect as the Seattle Storm took their WNBA Finals opener against the Las Vegas Aces.

Bird notched up a WNBA playoff record 16 assists with 2018 WNBA MVP Stewart tallying 37 points and 15 rebounds as the Storm won 93-80 in the 'Wubble' in Bradenton, Florida.

The Aces trailed by 16 points in the second quarter but, led by league MVP A'ja Wilson, roared back with an 18-2 run to level the scores in the third.

Stewart - who missed all of 2019 through injury - then got to work, scoring 11 consecutive points as Seattle drew first blood in the best-of-five series.

"She got that look in her eyes that she’ll take over. Hit some 3s, got inside got to the line. it was fabulous down the stretch." - Seattle Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg to WNBA.com on Breanna Stewart

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Bird was a member of the Storm's previous three WNBA champion teams in 2004, 2010 and 2018.

The last time they were beaten in the Finals was in Game 1 in 2004 with Seattle completing series sweeps in their last two Finals appearances.

And the signs are good for the Storm with Jewell Loyd knocking down a playoff career-high 28 points.

The famed Aces' defence, apart from a spell in the third quarter, never really got to grips with the Storm's stellar threats.

Wilson was also subdued, making just 6-20 from the field in her 19 points.

Angel McCoughtry led the Aces with 20 points while centre Carolyn Swords weighed in with 12 rebounds.

Las Vegas lost their semi-final series opener against the Connecticut Sun, and Wilson knows they will have fight back deep once more in Game two on Sunday.

She told WNBA.com, "We just got to buckle down and lock in from the start. There’s no guarantee this series is the exact same. Now we see the looks we were getting and got to knock those down."

Seattle Storm's Breanna Stewart runs at A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces in Game 1 of the 2020 WNBA Finals