Bench comes up big in Chicago Sky's lopsided win
Shoo Jamierra Faulkner!
Same difference, at least so says Faulkner, the Chicago Sky's speedy reserve point guard.
"I've always been like a little fly, getting on people's nerves," Faulkner said with a laugh. "Whenever we guard the ball, every person on this team is always trying to get a deflection, get a hand on the ball."
Faulkner got her hands on the basketball multiple times while on defense Sunday night at the Allstate Arena. In fact, she set a career high in steals with 6 as she helped lead the Sky to a 93-65 victory over the Seattle Storm.
With 14 points and 6 assists to go along with all of her steals, Faulkner, the all-time steals leader at Southern Mississippi, was just one of many reserves to star for the Sky, which moved to 20-12 to stay in second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Sky bench scored 57 points, which translates to 61 percent of the offense. Every reserve scored, with five of the six reserves playing at least 16 minutes apiece.
Reserve guard Allie Quigley poured in a team-high 17 points on 3 of 4 three-pointers, while forward Clarissa Dos Santos scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds off the bench. Reserves Betnijah Laney and Cheyenne Parker each finished with 6 points and Jacki Gemelos had a season-high 5 points in about eight minutes.
"That's next-level basketball when those players who are coming in and spelling (the starters) are not just maintaining but taking us to another level," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "I have high expectations for them, and they've really come through the last few games and I expect that to continue."
The Sky had Seattle by the throat from the tipoff, rushing off to a 16-0 lead. The Storm, playing without legendary point guard Sue Bird (injured) and three other players, finally scored its first field goal with 4:49 remaining in the first quarter.
Up 51-35 at halftime, the Sky finished with a bang as the reserves outscored the Storm 25-15 in the fourth quarter.
"Depth is huge, and to know that you've got players on the bench who can come in and get you doing even better is really relaxing for us (starters)," said Sky star forward Elena Delle Donne, who scored 13 points in 23 minutes and should be the most valuable player in the WNBA this season, according to Chatman.
"For us (starters), obviously we like to get a good start. But we do know that we have them (the reserves) there to come in and wreak havoc on people. It's great having them and it's a trust thing. It's something we struggled with in the past, so it's so nice to know that anyone who has their number called is going to step up."
Point guard Courtney Vandersloot was the only other starter in double figures. She had 10 points and 6 assists. Her fifth assist broke her own team record for assists in a season (184 in 2013).
Seattle (9-22) was led by rookie guard Jewell Loyd, the former Notre Dame star and Niles West product. Loyd scored a game-high 21 points and had 7 rebounds. Seattle also got double figures from reserve Jenna O'Hea (13 points) and forward Crystal Langhorne (12).
Sky guard Cappie Pondexter, who ranks second on the team in scoring (15 ppg), missed her third straight game (concussion). She will be practicing this week and is hoping to play in the Sky's next game Friday, the final home game of the regular season.
Next game: Tulsa Shock at Sky, 7:30 p.m. Friday (The UToo)