At full strength and seeking a second win over the Wings in seven days, the Chicago Sky attempt to get back over the .500 mark Sunday when the teams meet in Dallas.
Chicago (8-8) used a huge second quarter to roll past the New York Liberty 99-83 on Friday night. Courtney Vandersloot scored 17 points and matched a season high with 12 assists as the Sky seized control of the game with a 28-2 tear over the final 7:07 of the first half.
Jantel Lavender and Stefanie Dolson combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds in the frontcourt, and the rout allowed coach James Wade to give minutes to Jamierra Faulkner, Katie Lou Samuelson and Astou Ndour as they returned from injuries and EuroBasket commitments.
“This was a dream game,” Wade said in addressing his team post-match according to the Sky’s Twitter feed. “The energy was good, the way we were locked in was good, the way they couldn’t get into a set was good.”
While Vandersloot did not get a nod as one of the starters for the All-Star game later this month, she seems all but certain to be making the trip to Las Vegas as the current league leader with 8.1 assists per game. She has reached double figures in helpers in three of her last four contests while posting a 3.25 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“[Vander]Sloot plays on another level. Like Jantel says, she’s our engine,” Wade added. “So she’s [going to] draw attention because she makes good decisions and she’s [going to] get other players open shots. So if you collapse the defense and you get the ball out, it’s [going to] be amazing. We were able to get multiple assists, hockey assists, from a lot of people on our team. Just to sum it up, we had 30 assists on 38 baskets. That is a lot.”
Vandersloot had seven points and 11 assists to help Chicago record a 78-66 home win over Dallas last Sunday to snap a five-game losing streak. Lavender paced the Sky with 20 points and 10 rebounds, including six in a game-closing 15-0 run over the final 3:59.
The Wings (5-10) have split two games since that defeat and coming off a 95-81 setback at Seattle on Friday night. Rookie Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points, but Dallas was overwhelmed early – giving up 33 first-quarter points and falling behind by 23 at halftime – in suffering its 15th consecutive road loss dating back to last year.
Ogunbowale is settling into a groove offensively, averaging 18.6 points and shooting 42 percent from 3-point range in her last five games. The fifth overall pick in the draft also leads all rookies with four 20-point games and is averaging a team-best 14.7 points overall.
Dallas could be short-handed along the frontcourt again for this match, with Azura Stevens sidelined with a foot injury and center Isabelle Harrison’s status uncertain as she is in concussion protocol. Glory Johnson had 18 points and nine rebounds in the loss to the Storm and has 32 points and 15 boards in her last two games.
(Diamond DeShields, Courtney Vandersloot, Alexandria Quigley and Jantel Lavender photo courtesy Chicago Sky official Twitter account)