Sky just fall short against Liberty, which fits the description of a WNBA superteam

Before the Sky faced the New York Liberty on Friday, coach James Wade was asked about facing one of the WNBA's so-called superteams.

His initial answer was unprintable.

"I don't think there's a superteam in this league," Wade said. "Nobody can fly in this league."

The Liberty is pretty much the definition of a superteam. During the winter, New York managed to add ex-Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot and two former WNBA MVPs - Breanna Stewart from Seattle and center Jonquel Jones from Connecticut.

The Sky did most of the flying Friday at Wintrust Arena, opening a 12-point lead in the third quarter. But Stewart's 10-foot pullup jumper with 7.6 seconds left gave New York a narrow 77-76 victory.

Wade wasn't willing to accept a moral victory after the game but did count this performance as an encouraging sign for the Sky, which endured heavy turnover from last year's roster.

"We've played eight out of nine games (including preseason) to our identity," he said. "So I don't mind losing these types of games if we fight the way we're going to fight. Even though you lose, these games should give you some sort of confidence to keep on going."

Sky forward Alanna Smith, who hit 7 of 7 shots for a career-high 18 points, was more than happy to celebrate taking a superteam to the wire.

"The good thing is we get to play them again in two days," Smith said, referring to Sunday's rematch in Brooklyn. "If I were them, I'd be worried to play us again, because we're hungry for that win and we were so close."

The game started with a low-key tribute to Vandersloot, who played for the Sky from 2011-22. A video played on the scoreboard before introductions and the four-time all-star waved to the crowd. With a 5 p.m. start on a Friday night, only a small portion of the fans were in their seats at the time.

Vandersloot had a typical game, finishing with 8 points and 8 assists. Stewart led the Liberty with 19 points.

The key moment in this game was an injury during the final minute of the first half to the Sky's top scorer, Kahleah Copper. She was running back on defense and seemed ready to concede a fast-break layup to New York's Betnijah Laney. Laney threw a little hip check to create some space, and Copper tumbled to the floor clutching her right ankle.

She was helped off the court, first hopping on one leg, then putting some weight on the injured ankle about halfway across the floor. Copper then jogged back onto the court just before the third quarter began and played her usual minutes in the second half.

But after scoring 18 points in the opening half, Copper hit just 1 of 8 shots in the second half. Still, the Sky opened a 12-point lead in the third quarter. New York made a push to pull ahead early in the fourth, then an 8-0 run put the Sky back ahead 71-67 with 3:40 left.

Sky guard Courtney Williams missed her first 7 shots of the game, then hit 3 in a row, including a 3-point that put her team up 76-74 with 55 seconds left. The Sky missed two chances to extend the lead, then after Stewart's go-ahead jumper, Williams missed a jumper on the final possession.

"I needed another timeout and I didn't have one," Wade said of the Sky's final possession. "There was something I wanted to exploit, but it was too late. I had like three plays in my head. We just had to improvise. They did what they could. That was my moment; I wish I could have had that one back."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Sky guard Kahleah Copper brings the ball upcourt against New York Liberty guards Courtney Vandersloot (22) and Betnijah Laney (44) on Friday night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Copper scored 18 in the first half but only 2 in the second after she hurt her ankle just before halftime. Courtesy of the Chicago Sky
Sky forward Elizabeth Williams goes in for a layup during Friday night's loss to the New York Liberty at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. Courtesy of the Chicago Sky
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