Storm beat Fever in front of franchise record crowd

Jewell Loyd’s season high of 32 points fuels the win in Caitlin Clark’s first pro visit to Seattle.

Caitlin Clark’s first pro visit to Seattle lived up to the hype and expectation that the attendees at Climate Pledge Arena were expecting on May 22.

The 0-4 Indiana Fever were searching for their first win, while the Seattle Storm were trying to get on the right track, having won just one of their first four games this season.

Clark’s quest for her first pro win in the WNBA will have to continue as the Storm defeated the Fever 85-83 behind a season high 32-point scoring total from Jewell Loyd.

“We were just ready to play… We were really just focused and intense on what we were trying to do… We slowed down, it was nice to see it,” Loyd said

Three hours before tip-off, the Storm announced via social media that the game would be a sellout crowd — just the second since the Storm began playing at Climate Pledge Arena. The expectation was 18,100 fans, which is what the crowd was at Sue Bird’s final game back in 2022.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be in Seattle where they (fans) show up when we need them. It was nice to add that atmosphere here and we used that for our advantage,” Loyd said.

The real number turned out to be 18,343 attendees, which was a franchise record. That number surprised rookie Nika Mühl, who made her long-awaited debut against Indiana: “My mind is blown because of that stat, I didn’t know that. I’m just so blessed to be a part of it. I’m forever grateful, probably gonna go home now and not be able to sleep. I get chills every time I think about it.”

Mühl just got her degree from UConn, and as a Croatian national, she needed to transition from a student visa to a work visa. That process ended up causing her to miss the first four games of the season, and she couldn’t even be on the bench. But when she finally checked in, the crowd showed her support on another level.

“Oh my gosh, when I checked in I was like this,” Mühl said as she shook her hands. “I was shaking, I don’t know. It was unreal, so surreal. I never dream of stuff like this. It was always too far for me to reach it… I love being here, I love Seattle.”

Mühl and Clark played against each other just on April 5 in the Final Four, and to play for a crowd like this was something special for both of them. Clark arguably had her best performance her last time in Seattle. In her NCAA tournament career, she had her best field goal percentage and three-point percentage inside Climate Pledge Arena in 2023.

“It is definitely a place that brings back a lot of memories. When I played here my junior year, I feel like all the momentum in women’s basketball really changed… We didn’t know coming from Iowa to Seattle what the crowds would be like, but the women’s basketball fans in this city were incredible,” Clark said.

Clark has carried the WNBA brand on her shoulders the past month, and despite the cold start, she still knows her role as an ambassador for women’s basketball.

For the game itself, team captain Jewel Loyd got the Storm to the finish line, having her best first half of the season. Seattle took a 25-16 lead after the first quarter, their largest first quarter lead of the season, with Loyd scoring 12. “I was just in a good headspace coming into today’s game. Maybe it was just sleeping in my own bed with my dogs,” Loyd said.

The offense for the Storm has been having some turnover problems so far this season. Against the Fever, they had a season low of nine, with just two in the second half. Loyd and Nneka Ogwumike, who was back for her first game after an ankle injury, played really well in the second quarter. Ogwumike scored 12 second quarter points along with Loyd, who finished with 21 first half points.

The Storm defense held Clark in check for most of the first half — she had five first half points, but got loose in the second half.

The third quarter was a tough stretch for the Storm, after starting the half with a four point lead. Seattle was able to go on a 10-3 run to take an 11-point lead out of the break. From the 5:23 mark in the third, all the way to 1:33, the Storm were held scoreless, and Indiana got back in the game, even taking the lead on a 15-2 run late in the third.

The Fever took a two-point advantage into the fourth quarter, their first lead heading into the fourth quarter of the season, 60-58.

It was a great time to have the Storm’s best quarter of the season, recording 27 points in the fourth quarter. It started with a 7-0 run to put the Storm in front 65-60. Sami Whitcomb came up huge for the Storm on offense with 10 fourth quarter points, but also defensively.

“What I see from Sami is pesky defense… We see what she can do on offense, but she impacts so much on both ends (of the floor). Namely defense because she talks and is proactive, she can guard the floor, not just her player. She’s fearless,” Ogwumike said.

After just three third quarter points, Loyd got going as well. She recorded eight points, finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the win.

The game came down to the final 2.6 seconds and an 84-83 lead, and the Fever were set to inbound. All 18,343 people know who the ball was going to — number 22 in white. The Storm defense was prepared, and the ball slipped through Clark’s hands, resulting in a jump ball and a Fever foul.

One Ogwumike free throw make later, and the Storm held serve on home court. The Storm take on the Washington Majestics on May 25 inside Climate Pledge Arena.


One of the bright spots in the game was Nika Mühl’s first minutes in a Storm uniform in the regular season. She was met with a standing ovation. Her path to the court was a long one, but she was able to stay positive with support from her teammates and Storm staff, but also a little joke with her family.

“I’m very thankful for everyone in the organization because they worked their butt off to get me that visa. I’m very thankful. I’m glad to be back,” Mühl said.

She took a difficult and frustrating visa situation, and with some help from her graphic design dad, made a T-shirt with a fake visa on it with an “approved” stamp on it.

“I have to make a funny thing of this. I want to make people laugh. My dad is a graphic designer, and I said it had to go on a shirt. My mom helped me design the whole outfit. It was like my family is so involved… The shirt was printed faster than the visa,” Mühl said.

Seattle Storm’s Nika Mühl made her much anticipated debut in the WNBA against the Fever. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Seattle Storm’s Nika Mühl made her much anticipated debut in the WNBA against the Fever. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Jewell Loyd brings the ball up the floor for the Storm. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Jewell Loyd brings the ball up the floor for the Storm. Ben Ray / The Mirror