Storm secures No. 4 seed, spoils Fowles home final for Lynx

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tina Charles had 23 points and nine rebounds, Jewell Loyd scored 21 points and the Seattle Storm secured the No. 4 seed in the WNBA playoffs with a 96-69 win over the Lynx of Minnesota on Friday night, spoiling Sylvia Fowles’ final home game of the regular season.

Seattle (22-13), which closes the season Sunday against first-place Las Vegas, will host a first-round series next week against the Washington Mystics. Minnesota (14-21) plays Connecticut on Sunday, hoping for the final playoff spot.

Fowles, who helped Minnesota win two WNBA titles, is retiring as the league’s career leader in field goal percentage, rebounds and double-doubles. Fowles came out of the game with two minutes left after recording another double-double and the referees stalled so the crowd could give her a standing ovation. Fowles was also celebrated after the match in a ceremony.

“Coming into this season I didn’t want any of that attention but as the season went on I realized how much these fans love me and how much these fans love me in this league and I don’t want never take that for granted,” an emotional Fowles said after the game. “So thank you guys for everything you’ve done throughout my career. It’s been an amazing race and I appreciate you all.

Seattle took a 30-10 lead in the first quarter and it was 45-28 at halftime. Charles scored 14 points in the first half, Loyd added 12 and Breanna Stewart had 10 points and eight rebounds. Seattle led 89-59 with three minutes left.

Stewart finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Briann January added 11 points for Seattle. Loyd set a franchise record with his 73rd 3-point shot of the season, surpassing Sue Bird’s 72 in 2016.

Fowles. who passed Rebekkah Brunson for first on Minnesota’s rebound list, finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota. Aerial Powers scored 12 of 18 points in the fourth quarter and Bridget Carleton added 11 points.

Seattle coach Noelle Quinn has returned after being within league health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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