"I think coming into this season, she really just changed her mindset", said Storm point guard Sue Bird.
Yet the Storm answered with a quick 8-0 run behind a Stewart and-one and a big Sami Whitcomb 3-pointer put the game right back in Seattle's control.
In the past year Stewart has spoken up about her assault, posed for ESPN's Body Issue (as did Bird) and won both the league and finals MVP trophies.
"Way at the beginning, I said at the start, I was exhausted of losing", Stewart said.
"There's been a huge transformation with the culture of this team", said Delle Donne, who was acquired by Washington before the 2017 season. "Hopefully eat a lot of food I am not supposed to eat and have some champagne - more champagne".More news: Primary Day: What you need to know
With the win, Seattle extended its league-record WNBA Finals winning streak to eight games and sealed its first postseason road win since Sept, 16, 2010, when the team defeated Atlanta (87-84) to earn its second title. Bird won two titles in college at CT, and now has won three with the Storm. Bird hopes that the elevated stakes Wednesday can motivate the Storm to avoid any complacency they might've experienced in Phoenix. Perhaps more than anyone, she is soaking in all the celebration "because you can never re-create that", she said.
"I think that series, looking back on Phoenix, it's something that we really learned from", Stewart said. I didn't know (Toliver's' favorite) beer. "You know it's early, it's early for us, but to have this kind of support, this is what it's all for".
Bird, 37, finished with 10 points and 10 assists to bolster Finals and league MVP Breanna Stewart, who saved her best for last: 30 points - a career-high for the playoffs - on 11-of-22 shooting, including four 3-pointers on five attempts.
Howard was a deep reserve for Minnesota during the Lynx's title run past year, averaging 1.1 points and 0.9 points.
Breanna Stewart scored a playoff career-high 30 points as Seattle dominated Washington. She was the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Final Four in all four of her college years. "We're only out there on the court a little bit of time together, but the moments that we spend hanging out in the airport, playing 'would you rather, ' hanging out, getting dinner together, those are the moments that are so special, and what we're actually probably going to miss the most now that this season has ended".
But everyone on the delirious Storm side may have been happiest for two people - first-year coach Dan Hughes, and the venerated veteran Bird.