Rosemont, IL — Allstate Arena was roaring with energy as the teams faced off in double overtime. Unfortunately, it did not end well for Chicago fans as their team fell behind and dropped a home game to Los Angeles, 115-106.
It seemed like déjà vu in the Allstate arena tonight as the two teams flirted with the lead, similar to their previous matchup back in July in Los Angeles, but this time it resulted in double overtime and a victory for the Sparks.
Time is ticking for teams to earn playoff spots, and the energy on the court today, proved Los Angeles is fighting to keep the number two spot. On the other hand, Chicago is scratching and clawing to make the playoffs -- the Sky currently is in ninth place and only the top eight will see the postseason.
The Sky overcame an important 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter that changed the pace of the game -- especially Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley.
"[Courtney and Allie]. I just kind of draw some arrows and scribble and I feel like I'm writing in crayon out there, and then they go out and make some great shots and do a great job of staying ready, staying engaged,” Stocks explain on Chicago’s fight to erase its deficit. “Vandersloot does a fabulous job of finding open teammates.
“We've highlighted it before, but again, screening. Everyone playing together and finding ways to set and execute outstanding screens."
Hope seemed lost, but Stefanie Dolson reignited the fire. With only 10 seconds on the clock, Dolson sunk a three to trail, 86-85. Chicago then forced a foul putting Chelsea Gray at the line. Gray was good for both shots and the Sparks took the lead, 88-85.
The Sky raced down the court and passed to Dolson, yet again. She did not hesitate under pressure and sunk a triple with three seconds remaining to force the first overtime. Dolson finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago.
A key factor for the Sky to force another five minutes of play was its defense. With the game on the line, Los Angeles’ Gray went up for a jump shot with 10 seconds remaining, however, was unable to pull connect on the shot. Even though the Sparks grabbed a crucial offensive rebound, again Los Angeles was unsuccessful at scoring.
The Sky miraculously overcame double-digit deficits in this game, but could not find the rhythm they had earlier in the game during the final overtime. The Sparks took advantage and rallied ahead, never looking back after its 7-0 start to open the second overtime.
“Once we start going into that second overtime I just told them you know this is really going to challenge our character, we are going to find out what kind of character we have right now,” Los Angeles head coach Brian Agler stated on the second overtime. “We started making some plays at both ends of the floor and were able to extend our lead.”
Agler continued on the difference between the overtimes, “Just staying poised, staying focused, and our composure is really what helped win the game at the end. We didn’t dwell on turnovers and mistakes but we also didn’t make a lot of mistakes down the stretch so that afforded us the opportunity to be able to really capitalize on possessions.”
Leading the Sparks was Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike each capturing a double-double. Ogwumike led with 32 points, 10 rebounds while Parker added 29 points and 12 rebounds.
“I feel like we gutted through the game, obviously, Chicago is a good team, they have had some rest and we have been on this long road trip, but we gutted it out,” Parker stated after the win. “Obviously, we didn’t finish regulation that well but we bounced back and got the win.”
Tonight meant a lot for Parker, since she was able to play in her hometown, and has the opportunity to indulge in her favorite Chicagoland restaurant as a victory treat.
“It is Friday, so I know they (Portillos) don’t close until midnight,” Parker said. “My order is usually a jumbo chili cheese dog with no onions, fish sandwich with cheese, large fry, chocolate cake milkshake and chocolate cake to go.”
Well worth the 40 minutes of stressful playing time she contributed tonight.