CHICAGO — After a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Sparks in their home opener, the Chicago Sky were back in full force against the New York Liberty at home Wednesday and cruised their way to victory, 83-50.
The biggest highlight came in the form of rookie guard Rebekah Gardner, who filled in for the injured Allie Quigley and put on a superb performance. She scored 14 points, grabbed four rebounds and collected two steals.
Gardner’s journey to get to this point was unique in the sense that for the last ten years she played overseas in Spain after coming out of UCLA in 2012. In 2017, she tried out for the Sky but missed the cut and over the past decade she honed her skills among the best of the best at the international level and Sky coach James Wade had all the confidence in her and knew her time was coming.
After Wednesday’s game, she spoke of the significance of being able to showcase her talents for the defending champions.
“It definitely means a lot that they thought that I can bring something to them on the offensive end and I’m grateful and appreciative” she said. “I never try to get too high or too low so I am thankful but the work is not done yet. We still got to stay focused, it is a long season but it is definitely an amazing opportunity. It has been ten years so it is nice when your hard work begins to pay off.”
The Sky outscored the Liberty 20-8 in the second quarter, showcasing their offensive prowess plus a defensive virtuosity that they were lacking in the latter stages of their opener against the Sparks. Dana Evans once again proved that she is a force to be reckoned with when she has the ball in her hands as she delivered a game-high 15 points. Candace Parker was also solid offensively with 11 points and six rebounds and was phenomenal defensively. Emma Meesseman added 10 points and six rebounds, showing signs of being a major staple in the paint and on the boards.
Parker thought the second-quarter run showed what the team can do defensively going forward to match their already highly-explosive offense.
“We have always known our offense and the potential it could be but the biggest question was defensively with our team,” she said. “I think our defense didn’t click last year until the playoffs and we know to have a better regular season than last year we need to play defensively.”
The Sky (1-1) will hit the road to take on the Minnesota Lynx (0-3) on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.