2019 WNBA Preview — Indiana Fever (4-5) at Chicago Sky (5-2)

After a successful two-game road swing, the Chicago Sky look to record a fifth consecutive victory and stay unbeaten at home Friday night when they host the slumping Indiana Fever.

Chicago (5-2) is trying to keep Connecticut in sight as it has the league’s second-best record. The Sky’s three-guard combo of Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, and Diamond DeShields combined for 50 points in their 91-83 win at New York on Wednesday night, with Vandersloot sinking 5 of 6 free throws in the final 37.2 seconds.

“That’s how you win games. Everyone says free throws are how you win games,” said Vandersloot, who finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, to The Associated Press. “We had the people willing to knock some shots down. That’s how you win down the stretch.”

Vandersloot leads the WNBA with 8 assists per game and is on pace to lead the league in assists for the second straight year and fourth time in her career. But she has been willing to take on a greater scoring role – her 11.9 points per game are the second-best of her career – as Chicago seeks its first five-game winning streak since July 7-20, 2013.

“I’ve spoken about it since I got hired, how valuable she was, not only to us but to the WNBA,” first-year coach James Wade told the Chicago Sun-Times as he stumped for Vandersloot to get an All-Star nod. “I hope she gets celebrated as such.”

Indiana (4-5) has cooled off since winning three of its first four games, looking more like the team that was expected to take smaller steps in its rebuild after a 6-win 2018. The Fever came undone in the fourth quarter of their 88-78 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night, scoring just one basket in a 3:44 stretch while failing to cut into a five-point deficit.

Candice Dupree scored 19 points while rookie center Teaira McCowan had season bests of 14 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks in her first pro start. The 6-foot-7 McCowan tied the rookie franchise record for rebounds set by Tamika Catchings in 2002, and coach Pokey Chatman was especially pleased with the No. 3 overall pick’s effort on the defensive end.

“Those blocks are wonderful, but we also look at the shots she alters. Fans love the blocks, but coaches love all the ones she alters,” the Fever coach told the club’s official website. “She is learning the pace of the game. She held her own and she’ll continue to get better.”

Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell has averaged 16.7 points in her last three games but is shooting 32 percent in that stretch.

Vandersloot had nine points and eight assists to help the Sky record a 70-64 victory at Indiana on Saturday. Quigley finished with 18 points as Chicago shook off a slow start in which it scored four points in the first 6:22.

(Courtney Vandersloot photo courtesy Chicago Sky official Twitter account)

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