The Chicago Sky got a much needed win against the Phoenix Mercury this past Sunday. They're currently sitting at 4-9 and second to last place in the standings ahead of the Indiana Fever.
Chicago jumped out with a 28-16 lead after the first quarter, but the Mercury responded. It was a four point game at half in Chicago's favor. A crucial moment and ultimate turning point in the game was when Brittney Griner was called for a flagrant 2 and ejected from the game early in the third quarter, leaving the Mercury to play the remaining 17 minutes without her and the Sky's advantage.
"When you lose one of your best players, it's always hard, and she's a focal point of what we want to do, but it's no excuse. She could be fouled out too," said Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello. "[The Sky] are playing extremely hard, they're playing well together, they're playing well at both ends of the floor. They made it uncomfortable for us."
Allie Quigley led the Sky with 20 points and went 4-7 from the three-point line. Courtney Vandersloot was crucial from the play-making standpoint finishing with a 14 point and 12 assist double-double.
After a six game losing streak, this was a must-win for the Sky, who have battled injuries, youth and inconsistencies all season long. The question remains if this could be a turning point with the potential to get a little more consistent offensively, defensively and from a health standpoint.
"I think the key is getting everybody healthy. Since I've been back (from injury), this is the first time we've played with a full roster. It felt good to be out there at full capacity and I think if we continue to stay healthy, things can turn around really fast for us," said Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
Chicago has struggled on the road going 1-5 and their lone win coming against the Indiana Fever to kick off the season. Defensively, they actually hold opponents to an average of two fewer points on the road as opposed to at home. On the road they give up 86 points per game versus at home opponents are averaging 88.4. Keep in mind number is slightly skewed due to a 110 point game the Sun laid on them earlier this season at home.
It has been difficult for them to score on the road to a degree. At home they average 79.4 points per game and on the road they score 76 a game. Currently ranked eighth in scoring at 77.8, it is a challenge for the Sky and has been since the season started. But defensively, has been a an even more serious struggle. They are currently giving up the most points on average in the league at 87.3 points per game to opponents.
The Dolson Effect
Stephanie Dolson returned to the lineup this past Sunday in the win over the Mercury. The Sky had been without their All-Star center for nearly a month due to a strained tendon. In that time frame when she was out, they went 1-7 with their single win coming against the Las Vegas Aces. There is no doubt the loss of Dolson was a major blow to the Sky, as a pivotal part of their offense and floor general, it is clearly just how important she is to this team on the floor.
Dolson makes a big difference out there. Her and I had a connection last year with the pick and roll, pick and pop type of thing. When she's hitting that shot, things open up in other ways," sad Vandersloot.
The six-five center averages 10 points and five rebounds in her career. She has size to combat other teams with size down low and is capable of shooting it very well from the perimeter. When Dolson is on the floor the team is 3-2, but with her only playing in five games this season, it's safe to say that her impact has truly been able to be felt yet.
The Sky look to make this a win streak as they host the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday, June 27th at noon ET in Chicago. A key game from a momentum and confidence standpoint before heading back out on the road after. The Dream defeated the Sky 81-63 in their previous meeting back on May 23.
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