Kahleah Copper (27 points) went on 8-0 and 8-2 individual runs in the third quarter to cut into a 19-point deficit and her Chicago Sky went on a 13-0 run from 7:30 in the fourth to 3:57 in the fourth to take a 74-70 lead before holding on to defeat the super-team New York Liberty 86-82 Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Sky avenged Friday night’s 77-76 loss to the Liberty, which saw Breanna Stewart make a game-winning shot with seven seconds remaining, and improved to 4-3, while New York fell to 4-2 after another concerning outing. The Liberty lost their opener by 16 to the Mystics and in their last three have been challenged by the 0-4 Storm, challenged by the Sky and defeated by the Sky.
Courtney Williams was nearly the hero on Friday, knocking down a three that put Chicago up 76-74 with 55 seconds to go. On Sunday, she hit a three that made it 79-76 Sky with 1:42 remaining. Courtney Vandersloot made a wide-open driving layup to cut it to 80-78 with 59 ticks left, but New York couldn’t get the job done on its next two possessions, which resulted in an offensive foul turnover and a Stewart air-ball three, respectively. The Liberty didn’t score again until a Vandersloot reverse layup with 9.8 seconds remaining. After that Marina Mabrey iced the game with two free throws that rendered Stewart’s layup at the buzzer meaningless.
SUPER TEAM, TEENAGE DREAM, LIGHT THE BEAM, KRISPY KREME.— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) June 4, 2023
IT DON'T MATTER
SKY WIN. pic.twitter.com/jRGU64shpa
The 13-0 fourth-quarter run started with a C. Williams mid-range make, which was followed by Robyn Parks block of Jonquel Jones. On the ensuing possession after the block, C. Williams drove under the basket before finding Parks on the right wing for a three that cut it to 70-66. A drive and nice adjustment at the basket by Copper resulted in a layup that cut it to 70-68 and then Copper dumped it off to Elizabeth Williams for a layup that tied it at 70.
A C. Williams crossover created a wide-open mid-range look, which she hit to make it 72-70, and another E. Williams layup capped the run.
Stewart then went on a 6-2 individual run to tie it at 76, but C. Williams hit her big three after that.
The Sky cut it to four twice in the third, but New York held a nine-point lead entering the fourth.
Betnijah Laney scored inside to put the Liberty up 49-30 fifty seconds into the third, and Sky head coach James Wade immediately called a timeout. It seemed like a quick timeout after the Sky had just had all of halftime to talk about their 17-point deficit. Now they were down just two more and New York hadn’t built a ton of third-quarter momentum. But Wade’s decision proved genius as Copper proceeded to go OFF. She made a right-corner three, a pull-up mid-range shot in transition and a straightaway three for an individual 8-0 run that cut it to 51-40. Later, she went on a 8-2 individual run featuring two more threes, including a contested one; that cut it to 55-51.
Copper finished 5-of-8 from downtown to improve to 13-of-26 on the season. She added seven rebounds and three assists to her stat line. C. Williams was again quiet in the scoring column early on, but finished with 12 points. She added nine boards and six helpers. Mabrey was good for 17 points (9-of-11 at the stripe) and four assists.
Jones has been the one piece that hasn’t fit well with everyone else on the Liberty so far, but a potentially symbolic moment of Jones finally fitting in came when Stewart had the ball near mid-court with seven seconds remaining in the first half, drove inside the arc against aggressive defense from Alanna Smith and then dished it to Jones on the left wing for a three at the buzzer that made it 47-30 NY.
However, Jones would not score in the second half.
The second quarter was all about Marine Johannès getting behind the Sky defense for easy scores. She had nine points in the frame, including one three. She went on a 4-0 individual run that brought the score to 26-15 Liberty and later received a long pass from Stewart after a missed Mabrey free throw before finishing with an easy layup behind everyone to make it 40-23.
The first quarter saw a big run for NYL answered by a big run for CHI. New York took momentum right back with one big run throughout the second, winning the frame 29-15. It seemed like everyone in the rotation got in on the fun and at least contributed in some way, even if not by scoring.
This 9-player rotation for the Liberty has no weak link— Swish Appeal (@SwishAppeal) June 4, 2023
At the break, Stewart, Jones, Vandersloot and Johannès all had nine points.
After going down 13-0, the Sky closed the opening frame on a 15-5 run that began with a 5-0 run. Copper made a layup and Parks made a three to cut it to 13-5. New York answered with a 4-0 run that was capped by a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Laney to Stewart for a transition lay-in. A Copper right-corner three then cut it to 17-8; later a Parks triple cut it to 18-13. Chicago closed the first with a Parks steal-turned-Kristine Anigwe transition layup that cut it to 18-15.
Vandersloot scored seven points on the 13-0 Liberty run that opened the game. She opened the contest’s scoring with a right-wing three, then turned a steal into two fast break free throws that made it 9-0 and followed with a layup that made it 11-0. A Vandersloot steal then led to a Laney transition layup that closed the run.
Vandersloot was simply phenomenal, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. Stewart, unsurprisingly, put up a big stat line as well with 20 points, 11 boards and four helpers. Sloot was 6-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 at the free throw line.
New York was hurt by its 24 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It did however win points in the paint 52-32.