Sky drop critical game to Aces in playoff push, fall two games behind Sparks


Wintrust Arena reached noise levels reminiscent of the Sky’s last two playoff runs.

It wasn’t just the late and-one from Kahleah Copper that sent fans to their feet, either. It was every rebound, drawn foul and forced turnover that garnered a reaction from the fans. 

The Sky’s 94-87 loss to the Aces on Thursday might have been as close to a playoff atmosphere as the franchise gets this year.

“We played a very good first half,” interim coach/general manager Emre Vatansever said. “We scored 18 and 19 in the third and fourth quarters, but we gave up a lot of buckets on the other end. We struggled attacking their switch, and there were a couple of turnovers that hurt us. We were in the game all the way through. I feel like we ran out of gas a little bit.”

The Sky led by 16 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 13-point lead after shooting 54.1% from the field and 45.5% from three while holding the Aces to 15.4% from three.

The reigning champs came out of the break firing on all cylinders. They scored 33 points in the third quarter, led by Kelsey Plum, who, after going 0-for-4 from three in the first half, finished shooting 5-for-12, including the go-ahead three in the fourth quarter with six minutes to play.

Ultimately, it was the Aces’ late-game composure that secured them their WNBA-record 30th win of the season. The Sky committed four of their 16 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“In the third and fourth, they went into another gear,” Vatansever said. “We couldn’t match that energy.”

The Sky cut their deficit to two with less than two minutes to play after Elizabeth Williams drew an offensive foul on A’ja Wilson, then went to work under the basket on the other end. Her layup shifted the momentum back in the Sky’s favor until Marina Mabrey fouled Chelsey Gray on the next possession.

Gray played like the best point guard in the league. With a four-point lead and under a minute to play, she dribbled at the top of the key, watching as the shot clock ticked down. When it read three seconds, she drove into the lane and hit a fadeaway over Mabrey.

Mabrey led the Sky with 22 points, plus five rebounds and three assists. Williams added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Copper finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Sky threw multiple defenses at Wilson, but she still finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jackie Young led the Aces with 24 points, Plum added 23 and Gray finished with 19 points, 10 assists and two rebounds.

With the loss, the Sky will have to update the new decor to their practice facility. Upon entering the gym at Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield, there’s a banner immediately to the right that reads “Playoff Push.” Underneath is a list of the Sky’s remaining games with a box next to each to mark a “W” or an “L.”

On Friday morning, they’ll have to tack on an “L.” The Sky fell two games behind the Sparks for the eighth and final playoff spot. They visit the Sparks on Tuesday.

“We need to take care of business,” Vatansever said. “We play Seattle and Los Angeles on the road now. That’s our focus.”


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button