Chicago Sky get big OT victory over Lynx
Without its best player, against the best team in the WNBA, and after a five-day road trip, the deck was stacked against the Chicago Sky Tuesday night.
The Sky wasn't supposed to beat the Minnesota Lynx.
Guess the players didn't get that memo.
The Sky overcame deficits as large as 10 points, kept its composure during a nip-and-tuck final stretch, forced overtime with an unlikely play and got a 98-97 win over Minnesota at Allstate Arena.
It was an important win for the Sky (17-15), which is jockeying for playoff positioning and home playoff games, all while star forward Elena Delle Donne, last year's WNBA most valuable player, is recovering from Tuesday's surgery for a broken thumb.
"Minnesota has won three of the last five (WNBA championships) so to play a team of their status like this is great," said Sky veteran guard Cappie Pondexter, who poured in a team-high 24 points. "We have to credit (head coach Pokey Chatman) because she made sure that during the (Olympic) break that we got better individually without our key player (Delle Donne, who was playing in the Olympics in Rio).
"Our mindset has been that way since the break. So we knew what we were doing without her. We all did a good job individually and as a team and we were able to win."
The Sky forced overtime thanks to the free throw shooting of guard Courtney Vandersloot. She hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 11.4 seconds. The one she missed, she missed on purpose and her hard toss at the rim, with the Sky trailing by 2 points (86-84), rebounded right into her hands.
Vandersloot (18 points, 8-of-9 free throws) put up a shot that missed, but she got fouled and sunk her next two free throws to tie the game and force the extra session.
"Sloot is a veteran now," Chatman said. "I asked her if she was practicing that miss. It was perfect.
"So much was at stake in this game. That's what you saw. It's time of year and where we're trying to finish."
The Sky got a big defensive play, a block, from rookie Imani Boyette in the final seconds to seal the win. Also, seldom used forward Clarissa Dos Santos came off the bench to score 12 points for the Sky, and forward Tamera Young added 16 points.
Forward Maya Moore paced Minnesota (26-6) with a game-high 27 points while former Sky star center Sylvia Fowles scored 17 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.