MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Courtney Vandersloot led a balanced offense with 19 points and the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky raced past the third-seeded Minnesota Lynx 89-76 in the second-round, single elimination WNBA playoff game on Sunday night.
Chicago opens the best-of-five semifinals series at 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 straight seasons, scored 15 points in the second half, eight in the fourth quarter, including two steals and layups. She contributed five assists but said the scoring mentality was intentional.
“I (said) before the game I was gonna be aggressive,” she said. “I just wanted to get to that next round, it was all that was on mind so I just wanted to be aggressive and hopefully make some shots today.”
Kahleah Copper scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Sky, Azure Stevens added 15 points, Diamond DeShields 14 and Ali Quigley 11.
The Sky, who lost four of six coming into the playoffs, won with a 22-6 advantage in fast break points fueled by 11 steals. They also dominated inside with a 37-29 rebound margin and made 19 of 20 free throws, 10 more than the Lynx.
Aerial Powers led Minnesota, which had won 9 of 10 to end the regular season, with 24 points. Kayla McBride added 19 and Sylvia Fowles 17.
Fowles, who was announced as the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time in her career before the game, had 13 points at halftime and didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
“She was really dominant all season long (but) our post players did incredible job,” Vandersloot said. “It was a team effort tonight, trying to make things difficult for her.”
Chicago led 42-38 at the half with Copper scoring 11 points. Vandersloot had seven points in the third quarter when Chicago led by as many as 10.
Up 62-56 entering the fourth quarter, a steal and layup by Vandersloot made it 75-61 with 6:07 to play. Minnesota’s next five baskets were 3-pointers but McBride’s desperation 3-pointer that banked in from the top of the key only pulled the Lynx with 82-76 with 1:51 to play.
No more shots fell for Minnesota and Chicago made 7 of 8 free throws.
“We’ve been working all season to be playing our best basketball right now so we’re feeling pretty good,” Vandersloot said. “Obviously Connecticut has been playing really good basketball … but we’re going to focus on us and try to continue the momentum.”