Copper leads as Chicago Sky hold off Dallas Wings in first round of WNBA Playoffs 81-64
The Chicago Sky held off the Dallas Wings 81-64 in the single-elimination first round of the WNBA playoffs with four players in double digits.
Chicago forward Kahleah Copper led the charge amassing 12 points in the first quarter. Sky newcomer and two-time MVP Candace Parker, playing in front of her hometown crowd, was also effective in the first quarter with eight rebounds. Chicago guard Courtney Vandersloot bookended the period with an acrobatic driving layup to the delight of fans at Wintrust Arena.
With a 25-14 lead after the first period, the Sky continued to dominate in the second quarter, outscoring the Wings 19-15. Reserve guard and rookie Dana Evans started the action for the Sky, burying a corner three.
Dallas fell behind by 21 points midway through the quarter. At the break, Chicago had a 44-29 advantage.
The game seemed to be in Chicago’s pocket until the third quarter, when Dallas mounted an impressive run to make it a close contest.
“We played well. We even withstood their run. I feel good,” Sky head coach James Wade said postgame before elaborating on what the team needed to clean up before the second round. His short answer to what his team needed to work on: “the third quarter.”
In the third stanza, the Wings played with more offensive confidence, whittling down the 15-point deficit that plagued them at the half. With an 18-7 run capped by a trey from Marina Mabrey, Dallas was within four points of the home team. Overall, the visitors outscored the Sky 21-11 in the third quarter.
“I think we were a little stagnant at some points in the game tonight, where the ball didn’t move,” Wade said. “And we were like, ‘what do we do?’ And I think we just have to make stuff happen. But, a lot of that is going to be movement off the ball. I think once you get tired a little bit, you stop moving as readily. And you have to appreciate those movements off the balls, those cuts. And those screens that probably don’t get you open, but they do create angles for your teammates to have driving lanes, and so we’ll look at it. That’s probably what we need to clean up a little bit, especially when the ball is not moving and we’re not scoring, and everybody’s a little tired.”
The Wings continued to nip at Chicago’s heels in the fourth quarter, keeping it close and within ten for most of the last period. However, with 2:27 to go, Dallas began to look ragged, and Chicago took advantage of their opponent’s fatigue and finished out on a 10-2 run for the victory.
The hometown fans were loud and raucous during the game providing the Sky with an emotional lift.
“I thought the crowd was great…I already knew what type of night it was going to be,” said Copper, who finished with a game-high 23 points.
Vandersloot scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out six assists. Allie Quigley added 15 points. Parker was on triple-double watch with 11 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.
Arike Ogunbowale shined for Dallas with 22 points. Forward Satou Sabally, back from recovering from an Achilles injury, scored 12 points and grabbed four rebunds. Isabelle Harrison led the Wings in rebounding with 10 to go along with her nine points.
The Sky travels to Minnesota on Sunday for the second round of the playoffs. Minnesota is seeded at No. 3 while Chicago is No. 6.
In the second game of the night, Phoenix downed New York and will head to Seattle to play the Storm on the same day.
Wade is undaunted by the prospect of playing at Minnesota.
“We thrive on the road.”
- The Sky returned to the postseason for the third straight year.
- With 15 rebounds against the Wings, Sky forward Candace Parker moved up to fourth on the all-time playoff rebounds leaders list. She is behind Lisa Leslie (471), Rebekkah Brunson (563), and Tamika Catchings (598) on the leaderboard.
- Sky forward Kahleah Copper scored 23 points and led all scorers Thursday. She also finished an impressive 10 of 14 from the field.
- Parker became the seventh player in WNBA Playoffs history to reach at least 900 points scored in the postseason.