ROSEMONT – The struggles of the Chicago Sky are well documented, and the potential for more turbulence increased when the team announced that Cappie Pondexter would miss Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Lynx for concussion protocol.
Chicago responded with their best performance of the season, torching Minnesota 100-76 at Allstate Arena. Picking up their first home win, the Sky earned a major opportunity to set a new course. Nothing could impede Chicago from reaching the win column.
Chicago stays inside
From the opening tip, the Sky (4-12) attacked the lane with impunity, forming the basis of their runaway win. Chicago had 54 points in the paint against Minnesota’s 22, and they came in a variety of ways. Whether it was a drive from the likes of Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, or a post-up from their plethora of interior players, there were plenty of highlights down low.
“It felt like everybody stepped up today in the absence of Cappie,” Vandersloot told reporters after the game. “We showed ourselves and everyone else how good we could be, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
As a result of their success inside, Chicago’s field goal percentage was a robust 59.7. Achieving that figure against the juggernaut that is Minnesota surprised all sides, but credit belongs to Chicago’s execution.
“We talked about trying to get defensive stops and it didn’t happen…Chicago utilized it and they ran it down our throat,” said Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles.
Vandersloot’s intermittent presence raised some proverbial hurdles with Chicago’s refit plans; the seven-year veteran missed multiple games due to overseas commitments.
“I know that with me coming in and out of the lineup, we hadn’t really had a good solid time to practice, and I felt like we were all on the same page,” she said.
Against the Lynx, Vandersloot soared. Earning her first double-double of the season, Vandersloot scored a career-high 26 points and a matched a career high in assists with 13. She fell three rebounds shy of a triple-double, but that didn’t dampen the excitement.
“The way that we move the ball allows any given player to step up and have a high number of assists, because we put a high emphasis on the next pass. She was put in a great opportunity with the way they were covering her defensively…and her teammates were ready to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Vandersloot did a fine job herself, making 11 of 16 shots. 11 of her 26 points came in the first quarter, and if she wasn’t scoring, she was likely setting up someone else. Five Sky players reached double-digits, including 18 points for Tamera Young and 14 off the bench for Cheyenne Parker.
Minnesota couldn’t establish much rhythm, but the third quarter was the hardest. They scored 10 points, allowing Chicago to pull away.
Additional credit belongs to Chicago for effectively neutralizing Maya Moore, who had been playing well over the last few games. She was held to eight points, all from the free throw line, and she got off only three field goal attempts. Her stat line wasn’t the sole influence in a 24-point loss, but her containment made it difficult for the Lynx to utilize their versatility.