Without Nneka Ogwumike, Seattle Storm top Washington Mystics

without nneka ogwumike, seattle storm top washington mystics

Without Nneka Ogwumike, Seattle Storm top Washington Mystics

The Seattle Storm notched their first win of the season Sunday against the Washington Mystics without All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike, who sat out with an ankle injury suffered in Friday's double-overtime loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Storm coach Noelle Quinn told reporters postgame that Ogwumike, who averaged 22.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG in her first two games since joining Seattle in free agency, has a chance to return Monday when the Storm completes a back-to-back at the New York Liberty.

"Before the game, we were managing and seeing if she would be ready to go," Quinn said. "Felt like tomorrow would be better with a little more rest. I'm not sure how we're going to update it, but in my mind, we're just going to continue to see if she's improved or not. After this flight and we get to New York, hopefully we'll know a little bit more."

Veteran center Mercedes Russell replaced Ogwumike in Seattle's starting lineup and had eight points and five rebounds. The Storm outscored the Mystics by 22 points in Russell's 30 minutes during the 84-75 victory. Sliding to power forward to make room for Russell, All-Star Ezi Magbegor had her first double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"I think my teammates have trust in me to make those offensive plays, and I think I definitely needed to step this game obviously with Nneka out," said Magbegor, "but not just this game -- with Nneka as well.

"With Cedes, Tori (Victoria Vivians) and Jordan (Horston), I feel like they all made their presence known offensively. Cedes is so great to play with, just with her facilitating as the post player."

Still, it was Seattle's All-Star backcourt duo of Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd that powered the team's comeback from a two-point deficit heading to the final quarter. Loyd (eight) and Diggins-Smith (six) combined to outscore Washington in the fourth quarter 14-11.

The Mystics, who played without center Shakira Austin due to planned injury management and guard Brittney Sykes due to a left ankle injury, shot just 4-of-15 with six turnovers in the final period.

"We really pride ourselves on making sure our defense is kind of motivating our offense," Loyd said, "but we also have some dogs on this team. It definitely starts with Sky (Diggins-Smith). She's our engine for sure. When she intensifies her defensive pressure, that kind of ignites everything around us."

To secure their first win, the Storm had to extend the minutes of their starters. Loyd, Magbegor and Vivians played the entire fourth quarter, with Loyd and Magbegor finishing at 37 minutes apiece. While Ogwumike's potential return would help, Quinn -- who recorded her 50th career win as a head coach -- noted her team would need contributions from reserves against the Liberty.

"Much of our supporting cast, so to speak, is going to be important for the entire season but specifically tomorrow on the back-to-back," she said. "That group needs to give us good minutes and I know they will."

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