Sky’s Win Over Mercury Sign Of Things To Come?
By Chris Kwiecinski
The Sky snapped a six-game losing streak against the Mercury with a 97-88 win Sunday that included 32 points off the bench, six players in double figures and one slap to the face.
Midway through the third quarter, Phoenix star center Brittney Griner got mixed up with
Chicago forward Stef Dolson. Griner’s hand swung around and hit Dolson in the face, sending Dolson to the floor.
After a review, referees ruled the foul a flagrant II, sending Griner from a game where she amassed 19 points in just over 24 minutes of game time.
The ejection, although questionable, took away the Mercury’s top performer, but also overshadowed what was a complete-game performance from the Sky. Chicago played with all their players for the second time this season. The first time being two days ago against Washington. This allowed Chicago to start two dynamic rookies in Gabby Williams and Diamond DeShields, and bring Dolson and Cheyenne Parker, two veterans who could be starters on other teams, off the bench.
“They’re starters in every right,” Sky head coach and general manager Amber Stocks said of Parker and Dolson. “We have a team that’s unique in that multiple people who don’t start on our team are WNBA starters. It allows our bench to be extremely productive.” Dolson and Parker poured in 24 of the Sky’s 32 bench points, and grabbed nine rebounds. The two were in a consistent rotation with Williams, DeShields and Astou Ndour, which was essential as it allowed Stocks to use Ndour correctly.
“We’re able to put Astou in her natural position, which is not the five, and she’s able to play more minutes at the four,” Stocks said. “We can use our guard strength, and rotate our guard positions.”
Rotating the guard positions allowed the Sky to lock down on WNBA legend Diana Taurasi, who only scored five points through the first three quarters. Taurasi, who’s currently fourth in the WNBA in scoring with an average of 20.4 points per game, was held to 18 and gave the Sky credit for having consistent defense on her throughout the game.
The Sky guards were highlighted by veterans Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley, who scored 34 combined points and shot a combined 6 of 11 from 3-point range.
Quigley’s final 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining iced the game for the Sky, and came on Vandersloot’s 12th assist of the game.
“The key has been getting everybody healthy,” Vandersloot said. “Since I’ve been back, I think this is the first time we’ve played with a full roster. It felt good to be out there at full capacity.” Vandersloot said the Sky needed this win badly, however Stocks said, with a healthy and complete roster, outcomes like beating the three-time WNBA champion Mercury, could be the norm.
“It’s not the team with the best players that wins, it’s the players with the best team. Today, we had a really good team.” Stocks said.
“Having our roster, having everybody healthy, allows what you see to happen.”