As a reserve off the bench, Chicago Sky guard Shay Murphy is prepared for anything.
Sometimes her minutes are limited and she's more of a cheerleader. But there are games like Wednesday's against the visiting New York Liberty in which Murphy makes it tough for head coach Pokey Chatman to take her off the floor.
Murphy, inspired to have her mother Pauletta in the stands, sparked a big Sky comeback with her 13 points and tenacious play on the defensive end. Down by as many as 17 points, the Sky weathered a slow start and then coasted to an 87-74 victory over the Liberty in front of 8,911 kids on "Camp Day" at Allstate Arena.
The Sky, led by a career-high 26 points from rookie forward Elena Delle Donne, is now 6-3 on the season while the Liberty, coached by Bill Laimbeer, drops to 4-4.
"I was really excited just to get the opportunity to get consistent minutes," said Murphy, who logged 16 minutes and hit 5-of-11 shots, including a 3-pointer. "I was happy that I was defensively able to help the team and that I was also able to finally knock down some shots for my confidence.
"It's been a while since I've gotten into a rhythm like that."
It was as good a time as any. Especially good, actually.
"Momma Murphy," as Shay calls her Mom, doesn't get to Chicago often. Murphy, from California, starred at USC.
"Having my Mom here felt really good," Murphy said.
"She makes it out once or twice each summer. It's really hard from L.A. She usually stays for a week or two, so it was awesome for her to see (a good performance)."
"Momma Murphy" also saw what is becoming a standard performance for Delle Donne, who set a single-game scoring record for a rookie. Delle Donne hit 10-of-17 shots, including two 3-pointers. Like Murphy, she was instrumental in the comeback.
The Sky seemed to be sleeping through the early tip-off (11:30 a.m.), and was down 30-15 to end the first quarter.
"Our team is all about defense," said Delle Donne, who rolled up 7 rebounds and 6 assists. "Giving up 30 points like that, that's not our type of basketball. When we're not getting stops, we can't get out and run in transition, and that's a big part of our game.
"It (the comeback) says a lot about our character."
The Sky also got a double-double (19 points, 14 rebounds) from center Sylvia Fowles and 14 points from guard Epiphanny Prince.
New York was led by guard Cappie Pondexter. The Chicago native and Marshall High School star had 21 points and assisted on a basket that cut the Sky lead to 5 points (79-74) with 2:42 remaining.
Delle Donne then scored two straight baskets and assisted on another to help the Sky pull away.