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Jewell Loyd scores 32 points and Storm hold off Caitlin Clark and Fever

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives as Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd (24) defends during the second half of a WNBA basketball game, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in Seattle. The Storm won 85-83. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

SEATTLE (AP) — The decisive losses Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever endured to start the WNBA season were easier to handle than the last two setbacks that were decided by a total of six points.

Jewell Loyd scored 21 of her 32 points in the first half, Sami Whitcomb scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, and the Seattle Storm held off Clark and the Fever 85-83 on Wednesday night, two days after Indiana’s 88-84 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

“These two definitely hurt the most. We’re what, six points away from being 2-3 instead of 0-5,” Clark said. “It’s just that close and there’s so many instances going back and watching the film and little things you can easily fix and clean up that would go a really long way.”

Loyd, last year’s leading scorer in the WNBA, shook off a sluggish start to the season to post the 22nd 30-point game of her career. Loyd and Whitcomb combined for 18 of Seattle’s 27 points in the fourth quarter, and the Storm (2-3) needed all those points to hold off a late rally and keep the Fever (0-5) winless.

“I just kind of cleared my head. I was in a good headspace coming into today’s game. … I just kind of reset and changed my routine a little bit and then caught a little rhythm,” Loyd said.

Clark finished with a team-high 21 points two days after rolling her left ankle in the home loss to Connecticut. She struggled early against Seattle, but sparked a third-quarter rally and helped give the Fever a 60-58 lead going into the fourth.

It was a stretch where she looked like the Clark everyone came to know collegiately at Iowa when she was the national player of the year.

“It’s still a process of learning when to be assertive,” Clark said. “Sometimes it’s hard when you start off a little bit cold.”

Seattle led by as many as seven early in the fourth quarter. Clark’s three free throws with 1:50 left pulled the Fever within 79-77, but Seattle got baskets from Jordan Horston and Ezi Magbegor on consecutive possessions.

The final minute was filled with debated calls and multiple officials’ reviews. The Fever pulled within 84-83 after two free throws by Clark. Seattle committed a turnover with 11 seconds left, giving Indiana a chance to win.

Clark stumbled on the inbound pass and a jump ball was controlled by Nneka Ogwumike, who hit one of two free throws. Indiana was out of timeouts and could only get Aliyah Boston’s desperation attempt at the buzzer that was off line.

Ogwumike added 22 points after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.

“Today was one of those days where I knew I had to push through some things,” Ogwumike said. “I just pride myself on being efficient in every way.”

While most of the sellout crowd of 18,343 — the largest for a game in Seattle — wore the green and gold of the Storm, there was a healthy smattering of Indiana and Iowa No. 22 jerseys and shirts for Clark. She put on a show the last time she was in the building during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Tournament when she helped lead Iowa to the Final Four, including a triple-double in the regional final.

Clark missed her first four shots before scoring on a baseline drive early in the second quarter. Her first 3-pointer didn’t come until midway through the third quarter and she finished 6 of 16 shooting, including 2 for 8 from behind the arc.

Seattle rookie Nika Muhl made her debut for Seattle after missing the first four games of the season due to visa issues. Muhl checked in late in the third quarter to a rousing ovation, only to see Clark knock down a 3 over her.


Fever: At Los Angeles on Friday.

Storm: Hosts Washington on Saturday.