Tina Charles scored 23 points on Friday night and the Seattle Storm spoiled Sylvia Fowles' final regular-season home game, walloping the Minnesota Lynx 96-69 in Minneapolis to clinch homecourt advantage for the first round of the WNBA playoffs.
Jewell Loyd added 21 for fourth-place Seattle (22-13), which will host the fifth-place Washington Mystics on Thursday in the opener of a best-of-three series. Breanna Stewart contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Briann January chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Fowles scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Minnesota (14-21), which could have clinched a playoff berth with a win and a Phoenix loss later Friday night against the Dallas Wings. The Lynx, who fell a half-game below the Mercury (14-20) pending the late result, conclude their regular season on Sunday at playoff-bound Connecticut.
Off the Minnesota bench, Aerial Powers added 18 points and Bridget Carleton netted 11, but the Lynx simply didn't have any answers on either end of the floor. They made only 36.5 percent of their shots from the field, while the Storm connected on 52.8 percent on their field-goal tries.
With a crowd of 12,134 in Target Center, Fowles started the night by flipping in a lefty jump hook over two defenders. That 2-0 lead and any chance the crowd could make a difference lasted 12 seconds, enough time for Loyd to can a 3-pointer that put Seattle ahead for good.
Sterling defense keyed a 15-2 Seattle run over a five-minute span. Stewart cut off multiple attacks to the bucket and her teammates aggressively played passing lanes. The margin grew to 30-10 after one quarter.
Carleton sank a 3-pointer with 4:40 left in the first half that drew the Lynx within 36-24. However, Seattle ripped off a 9-2 run that Stewart capped with a layup, leading to a 45-28 halftime advantage.
Bird stole the ball from Fowles and scored to up the margin to 56-36 at the 6:24 mark of the third period. The Storm steadily upped the cushion as high as 29 points late in the quarter.
Seattle owned a 32-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter before taking its foot off the gas.
--Field Level Media