Minnesota Lynx beat Seattle Storm 83-70, Alanna Smith scores career-high 22 points

Lynx Storm Basketball
Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd passes the ball against the Minnesota Lynx defense during the first quarter of a WNBA basketball game Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle.
Jennifer Buchanan | The Seattle Times via AP

Alanna Smith scored 16 of her career-high 22 points in the first half, Napheesa Collier scored seven of her 20 points during a decisive fourth-quarter run, and the Minnesota Lynx beat the Storm 83-70 on Tuesday night, spoiling the Seattle debuts of Skylar Diggins-Smith and Nneka Ogwumike.

Smith carried the Lynx in the first half before Collier took over late, and Minnesota leaned on its defense to frustrate the Storm into a difficult night at the offensive end. Seattle's Jewell Loyd, last year’s leading scorer in the WNBA at 24.7 points, was held to 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting.

“Seattle is a good team and I feel like we really shut them down in the second half, especially,” Collier said. “Just covering down for each other, really working as a unit and when we're doing that it's really fun.”

The opener was supposed to be the unveiling of the new-look Storm after they finished with the second-worst record in the league at 11-29 last season following the departure of Breanna Stewart in free agency and the retirement of Sue Bird.

Bird, who recently became part of Seattle’s ownership group, was in her courtside seat for the opener to see how Diggins-Smith and Ogwumike meshed with their new team. Diggins-Smith returned to the floor after missing the 2023 season while on maternity leave and Ogwumike left behind Southern California for the first time in her WNBA career to sign with Seattle after spending her first 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks.

It was a shaky debut.

“This is a new team,” Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said. “And though, yes, we have excellent players on this roster, it takes time. ... What it showed is we have a lot of work to do and that will come as we build through games and the adversity that will come. We’ll be better.”

Lynx Storm Basketball
Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, center, and forward Nneka Ogwumike defend against Minnesota Lynx guard Kayla McBride during the third quarter of a WNBA basketball game Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle.
Jennifer Buchanan | The Seattle Times via AP

Ogwumike finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Diggins-Smith added 10 points. But Seattle was just 1 of 9 on 3s and committed 17 turnovers.

“They came out more aggressive in that fourth quarter in my opinion. That's what it felt like at least," Ogwumike said. "We were doing a lot of figuring out how to change our schemes and I think it's more about just coming out and doing it aggressively the first time.”

Minnesota led 63-60 going to the fourth quarter, and outscored Seattle 20-10 in the final frame. Collier scored seven straight early in the fourth quarter as Minnesota stretched its lead to 74-62, and Kayla McBride’s 3-pointer from the wing gave the Lynx a 15-point lead with 4:12 remaining.

Smith, who signed a two-year contract after spending last season in Chicago, had reached the 20-point mark only once previously in her career.

Lynx Storm Basketball
Minnesota Lynx guard Courtney Williams drives against Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike during the fourth quarter of a WNBA basketball game Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle.
Jennifer Buchanan | The Seattle Times via AP

“It was a fun first outing,” Smith said.

Seattle didn’t debut its entire new look as rookie Nika Mühl was held out due to pending visa approval. Mühl was the 14th overall pick in the second round of the WNBA draft last month and Seattle created a spot on its roster by trading Jade Melbourne to Washington in exchange for a future draft pick.

The teams will run it back on Friday night in Minnesota for the Lynx’s home opener.