Storm guard Jewell Loyd sets WNBA season scoring record

SEATTLE -- It didn't take Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd long in Sunday's season finale against the Los Angeles Sparks to secure the WNBA's single-season record for total points.

Loyd entered Sunday's game eight points behind former teammate Breanna Stewart, who had scored nine earlier in the day. Less than four minutes into the Storm's eventual 91-89 loss, Loyd passed Stewart with a step-back 3-pointer, drawing a Los Angeles timeout and a standing ovation from the Seattle crowd.

"It's kind of how I say thank you to my trainers back home, my teammates, everybody who kind of supported me on this journey because it wasn't easy to do what I was doing," Loyd said of the record. "Quite frankly, no one else was doing it, so it's pretty cool. Maybe I'll feel more about it after, but right now, I think it's me being proud of everybody around me and saying thank you to them."

Knowing she would come into this season as the Storm's top offensive option after Stewart signed with the New York Liberty in free agency, Loyd trained harder in the offseason, work that helped her avoid a drop in efficiency despite posting a career-high 33% usage rate.

By finishing with 28 points, Loyd pushed her season total to 939 -- 20 more than Stewart and 79 ahead of Diana Taurasi's previous record in 2006. That came during a 34-game schedule. The WNBA extended the regular season to 40 games this year, with Loyd playing in 38. Her final scoring average of 24.7 PPG ranks second in WNBA history behind the 25.3 Taurasi averaged in 2006.

"I think the beauty of it is that it never came in a selfish way," Loyd said. "I think the shots I was taking were good shots. I wasn't hunting for anything. I was told what I was doing is not normal. I was told what I was doing has never been done before.

"I will look back at the season and really embrace that and see what I was actually doing because sometimes you don't know when you're in the room. You're just out there playing."

The record-setting game came a day after Loyd reaffirmed her commitment to the Storm by signing a two-year contract extension instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Terms of the deal were not announced but Loyd's agent, Jade-Li English of Klutch Sports, told ESPN's Andraya Carter that the deal is for $241,984 the first season -- the maximum possible -- and $249,032 in the second.

The extension keeps Loyd, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, with the only WNBA team she's played for and gives her a chance to keep climbing the franchise's all-time leaderboards. Loyd is third in franchise history in scoring behind legends Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, both of whom have had their jerseys retired by Seattle after playing their entire careers with the team.

Wearing a fitting T-shirt -- the headline of the Chicago Sun-Times from when Michael Jordan announced his return to her hometown Chicago Bulls after his first retirement with the simple statement, "I'm back" -- Loyd said postgame that signing the extension "made sense."

"I understand the business, but I knew kind of what I wanted and it was a feeling for me," she said. "At the end of the day, it was a pretty easy decision."

During Loyd's nine seasons with the Storm, Seattle has become a second home. She also expressed excitement about helping open the team's new practice facility, currently under construction in time for 2024 training camp, after being consulted in the design process. And despite the Storm's first season out of the playoffs since her rookie year, Loyd is optimistic about the team's ability to build around a core that also includes young starters Jordan Horston and Ezi Magbegor with a lottery pick next spring and cap space to add in free agency.

The combination of the extension and the scoring record gave Seattle fans multiple reasons to cheer Loyd on Sunday, something she appreciated after apologizing for the loss in an interview on the court after the game.

"It's pretty cool," Loyd said. "Not always do you get embraced by a city the way that Seattle has embraced me. Not always do you feel accepted and loved by everyone. I think everyone's really excited about what's to come and I think they just appreciate my decision.

"To hear that reaction of them yelling and screaming, from kids to older people just accepting and embracing that, it's pretty cool. I'll be better and that motivates me to keep doing what I'm doing and make sure that I'm on the up and up not just for me but for everyone else around me."