Team effort lifts Chicago Sky to emotional win
The drama in Sunday's Chicago Sky game -- momentum swings, a technical and even an ejection -- were nothing compared to the norm.
"They have to put up with me every day," Sky coach Amber Stocks said of her players after an emotional 97-88 victory over the Phoenix Mercury in front of 4,741 at Wintrust Arena. "So they're kind of used to …"
"The drama …" Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot piped in confidently.
"You could call it that," Stocks said with a laugh. "If you have to deal with me, whether it be my kids or the players, I think they're going to be prepared to weather some adversity."
The Sky had built a 16-point lead in the first half over the Mercury, which boasts the second-best record in the WNBA. But Phoenix chipped away in the third quarter and eventually tied the game.
That was adversity the Sky weathered in building the lead back up.
Meanwhile, when Phoenix center Brittney Griner (team-high 19 points) was ejected in the third quarter for forcefully slapping Sky center Stefanie Dolson across the face, it changed the complexion of the game into the Sky's favor.
The Sky, which had lost six straight games, latched on to that momentum and ran with it to close out the win.
Six players scored in double figures for the Sky (4-9), led by 20 points from Allie Quigley, 16 points from rookie Diamond DeShields, and 14 points from Courtney Vandersloot.
"Bad," Vandersloot quickly responded when asked how much the Sky needed a win. "We were all in a good mindspace. We felt that if we put a complete game together that this would happen. We weren't jumping ship, but let's be honest, we needed a win. And we worked hard for it. We earned it."
Even though Phoenix stars Diana Taurasi (who was hit with a technical in the first half) and DeWanna Bonner finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, the Sky held them relatively in check, particularly at key moments when the Mercury (10-5) was trying to cut into its deficit and make a late run.
The Sky also got 13 points from reserve center Cheyenne Parker, 12 from rookie Gabby Williams and 11 from Dolson.
"Our team, wow," Stocks said. "Allie (Quigley) said the other day, she put into words the quote that 'it's not the team with the best players that wins, it's the players with the best team.'
"And today we had a really good team attack across the board, both sides of the ball and on the sideline. All three dimensions of the court. We had a fantastic team attack."
The Mercury also got double figures from forward Sancho Lyttle (11 points) and guard Briann January (10).