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Sky get critical win, survive Storm; Vandersloot amazes

The Chicago Sky got a huge road win over the Seattle Storm on Friday. It was Courtney Vandersloot's night, as she played a tremendous ball game back in her home state.

Amy Ridgeway

Seattle, WA -- Elena Delle Donne made her LONG awaited Key Arena debut Friday and did not disappoint as her, and the Sky secured a 94-84 road victory over the Seattle Storm.

Chicago took advantage of their interior size advantage early. Erika De Souza was dominant scoring seven points in the first three minutes while Jessica Breland pulled down six rebounds over the same time span.

The inside performance of the Sky allowed them to quickly build a 15-7 lead midway through the period.

"We gave them way too many second chance opportunities," Said Storm guard Sue Bird of the poor early performance, "whether they turned into points... that can kill your morale. We put them on the free-throw line a lot. That really got them going in the first half."

Seattle would answer behind an inspired performance from Markeisha Gatling, who scored eight of her career-high 16 points in the quarter and held De Souza scoreless the rest of the period. At the end of one, the Storm had brought the score to 27-20.

In the second quarter, Seattle would outscore the Sky 16-8 over the first 3:30 to take their first lead at 36-35, but it would be short-lived as the Sky answered with their own run, outscoring Seattle 17-5 the rest of the way.

The Sky were anchored by Delle Donne, who showed no ill effects from her ankle injury, scoring 15 of her game-high tying 21 points and pulling down four of her eight rebounds in the first half.

"Elena has been the leading scorer in the league for a long time," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of her star's performance. "Our leading scorer and it is actually her first time to play here in Seattle. Her rookie year she had the mid-foot sprain and Lyme disease last year, so it was nice to have her out there."

Kent, WA native Courtney Vandersloot also had a standout first half adding 10 of her 21 points and three of her game-high tying eight assists before the break.

At the half, Chicago would lead 52-41.

The Sky jumped on the Storm right out of the gate in the third quarter, scorching Seattle 8-0 in the first 2:03 to go up by 19 forcing a Seattle timeout.

Seattle answered out of the timeout, outscoring the Sky 22-11 the rest of the third to pull within eight at 71-63 entering the final frame.

Chicago would come out strong again to start the fourth as Vandersloot scored the first seven Chicago points, and the Sky built their lead back to 11.

"[Vandersloot] was ridiculous," Said Delle Donne. "She had a fantastic game, and it is always great to see when she gets to come home and play in front of her hometown fans, she was unstoppable."

Seattle would remain within 11 or less as Crystal Langhorne, who had been rendered completely ineffective by Chicago's defense, scored 11 of her 13 points in the final 10 minutes.

A transition three by Sue Bird brought the Storm to within eight with 1:21 to go, but Breland answered with a jumper and Bird would have the ball stolen on the ensuing possession allowing the Sky to hold on to secure the 10 point victory.

All five Chicago starters scored in double figures. Delle Donne and Vandersloot with 21 apiece, Breland with 15 points 11 rebounds and 13 each from Cappie Pondexter and de Souza. The latter also pulling down nine boards in the victory.

Seattle was led by the career-high 16 points and five rebounds of Gatling whose contributions came in just 11 minutes of work. Also reaching double figures were Alysha Clark and Langhorne whom each contributed 13 points, Langhorne pulling down eight rebounds. Jewell Loyd also reached double figure with 11 points. Sue Bird added nine points and a game high tying eight assists in the losing effort.