Sky scores crucial victory over Liberty thanks to Courtney Vandersloot’s vintage performance
Late in the fourth quarter Friday night, the Chicago Sky clung to a two-point lead over the visiting New York Liberty. And with Candace Parker out due to a non-COVID-19 illness, they needed someone else to step in and take control. Courtney Vandersloot did just that.
As the shot clock ended on stagnant possession, Vandersloot assessed Marine Johannes and threw a 3-pointer off the dribble right in her face. After shaking every inch off the rim, the ball finally fell through the net to give Sky a five-point lead with 1:27 to go. Liberty never came close, as Sky pulled away for a crucial 89-81 win.
Vandersloot, who also had three free throws in the streak to seal the victory, finished with 23 points, six rebounds and nine assists for 6 of 10 from the field. She did all of this without registering a single turnover in 31 minutes of action. It was only the sixth time in WNBA history that a player had at least 20 points, six rebounds and nine assists without a turnover; Vandersloot has two such performances, by Through the timeline.
After missing Sky’s last four regular season games with a concussion, Vandersloot returned to action in the Commissioners Cup Championship on Tuesday but was not business as usual. Her vintage performance on Friday, however, made it clear that she was 100% back.
Vandersloot’s return to form has come at a perfect time for the Sky, who will need every win they can get to hold off the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun for the No. 1 seed and home advantage. field throughout the WNBA playoffs. Both of these teams are 6-1 since the All-Star break, putting tremendous pressure on the Sky to mind their business. Friday night’s game could have been tricky, especially without their best player, but they got the job done thanks to Vandersloot.
The Sky are now 22-7 this season and have maintained their one game lead over the Aces and 1.5 game advantage over the Sun. They are also closing in on the franchise record of 24 wins, set in 2014. With just seven games remaining, Sky should make history; Whether they will also claim the top seed remains to be seen.
As for the Liberty, it was a crushing defeat. Parker’s absence gave them a golden opportunity to claim a second consecutive victory over the Sky and secure a well-deserved victory. Instead, they came up short and have now lost eight of their last 10 games to fall to 11th in the table.
They are now two games away from eighth and final playoff spot and are running out of time. Their only potential saving grace is that the remaining eight games are against other playoff hopefuls. If they can warm up, they still have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.