Courtney Vandersloot led a balanced attack with 19 points and the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky defeated third-seeded Minnesota Lynx 89-76 in the WNBA second-round singles elimination game on Sunday night.
Chicago opens the best-of-five semifinal series in Connecticut on Tuesday. The Sun closed the regular season with 14 straight wins, but lost 2 of 3 to Chicago in the regular season.
Vandersloot, a regular season assist champion for five consecutive seasons, has 15 points in the second half – eight in the fourth quarter, including two interceptions and lay-ups. She contributed five assists but said the goal mentality was intentional.
“I (said) before the game that I was going to be aggressive,” she said. “I just wanted to get to the next round, that was all I had in mind so I just wanted to be aggressive and hopefully take some shots today.”
Kahleah Copper scored 16 points and took 10 rebounds for Sky, Azura Stevens added 15 points, Diamond DeShields 14 and Ali Quigley 11.
The Sky, who lost four of their six playoff games, won with a 22-6 advantage in quick break points fueled by 11 steals. They also dominated indoors with a 37-29 rebound margin and made 19 of 20 free throws, 10 more than the Lynx.
Aerial Powers led Minnesota, which won 9 of 10 to finish the regular season, with 24 points. Kayla McBride added 19 and Sylvia Fowles 17.
Fowles, who was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time in her pre-game career, had 13 points at halftime and failed to score in the fourth quarter.
“She’s been really dominant throughout the season (but) our post players have done an incredible job,” said Vandersloot. “It was a team effort tonight, trying to make it difficult for him.”
Chicago led 42-38 at halftime, with Copper scoring 11 points. Vandersloot had seven points in the third quarter when Chicago led up to 10.
With a 62-56 lead early in the fourth quarter, a steal and layup from Vandersloot took the lead to 75-61 with 6:07 to go. Minnesota’s next five baskets were 3 points away, but McBride’s 3-point desperation that leaned off the top of the key only shot the Lynx with 82-76 with 1:51 to go.
No more shots fell for Minnesota and Chicago made seven of eight free throws.
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