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Sky, minus Candace Parker, push past Liberty

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

No Candace Parker. No problem.

Kahleah Copper stepped up and fueled a balanced attack for Chicago in the absence of the two-time MVP, recording a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds to lift the Sky to an 89-81 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Friday.

Parker missed the game for a non-COVID illness. That announcement was made less than three hours before tip-off.

Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot buried a clutch 3-pointer with 1:27 remaining for an 84-79 lead to highlight her 23-point performance. She also had a game-high nine assists.

Allie Quigley scored 16 points and rookie Rebekah Gardner continued her impressive rookie season for Chicago (22-7), scoring 12. Azura Stevens also scored 12 for the reigning WNBA champions, who have won seven of their past eight games.

Sabrina Ionescu finished with 16 points to pace the Liberty (10-18), who have lost six of seven. Natasha Howard had 15 points and 10 rebounds while Marine Johannes added 13 points.

New York’s Stefanie Dolson, who won a championship with the Sky in 2021, scored seven of her 12 points in the opening quarter.

New York led 46-44 at halftime after Gardner blocked a 3-point attempt by Ionescu in the final seconds. The half featured 13 lead changes and six ties.

Timely 3-pointers were critical for Chicago in the third quarter. Stevens made two and Quigley buried a long-distance shot with 1:45 to play for a 65-62 lead.

A layup by Johannes with just over a second left cut the Chicago lead to 71-70 at the end of the third.

The league-leading Sky then survived a wild fourth. Chicago trailed 78-77 after Howard cut into the lane for a layup with 3:14 to go, but Copper fought hard for a putback 23 seconds later that gave Chicago the lead for good.

It was the second time in six days the teams have met, after the Liberty won 83-80 on July 23 in New York.

This one was just as close and the Liberty were up 21-18 at the end of one thanks to a 7-0 run late in the quarter.

–Field Level Media