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Storm stop Sky in battle of WNBA conference leaders

“We’re just not a good defensive team right now,” Sky coach James Wade said. “We’re trying to find some solutions, but it all comes down to effort.”

Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot looks to pass around Lynx guard Shenise Johnson on July 30 in Bradenton, Fla.
Chris O’Meara/AP

Breanna Stewart had 25 points and a season-high seven assists as the Storm won their fifth consecutive game with an 89-71 victory against the Sky on Monday in Bradenton, Florida, in a battle of conference leaders.

Stewart had 10 points and five assists in the first quarter as Seattle (7-1) built a 15-point lead after scoring 33 points. Seattle led 46-28 at halftime after holding the Sky to 10 points in the second quarter. The Storm forced the Sky into 22 turnovers while committing only 14.

“We’re just not a good defensive team right now,” Sky coach James Wade said. “We’re trying to find some solutions, but it all comes down to effort. I’ve never been in a situation like this where we’re just giving teams so much stuff, whether it be from our turnovers or whether it be from face-cuts or straight-line drives. We’re just not connected as a defensive group, and offensively, when we give the ball to the other team, it just handicaps us.”

Sami Whitcomb added 17 points for the Storm. Ezi Magbegor scored 13, Alysha Clark 12 and Jewell Loyd 10. The Storm had 25 assists on 36 field goals and shot 51% from the field.

Allie Quigley led the Sky (5-3) with 13 points. Cheyenne Parker added 12 points, and Courtney Vandersloot had nine assists.

“The issue is ‘Sloot’ has to sit down at some point,” Wade said. “And when Sloot sits down, everything just tumbles. We’re trying to find a solution for that. But it’s difficult. You have the best point guard in the world. We know that we can’t play her a certain amount of minutes, and they make a run when she comes out of the game. It happened two times tonight, and it’s just after you put her in and then after it’s just the game gets a little lost.”

Sue Bird missed her fifth game of the season for the Storm, who have lost to only reigning league champion Washington.