2:02 AM ET
- Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
The defending champion Chicago Sky overcame the largest deficit in WNBA history — 28 points — to win Tuesday, and did it against the first-place team in the league. Their 104-95 victory at the Las Vegas Aces was one for the record books in more ways than one.
“It’s not something I want to do again,” Chicago guard Allie Quigley joked of rallying from 28 points back, topping the previous mark of 25, which had been done three times. “But it was kind of weirdly calm. They’re such a fast-paced team and so are we, there wasn’t time to worry about the next play or even the score. It was just, ‘OK, just keep chipping away, chipping away.’
“Obviously, looking back, it’s unbelievable to be able to come back from that much and just shows what we’re capable of and what we can do when we really put out minds to it and play the style of play we want to play.”
That includes sharing the ball; the Sky had 34 assists, which tied for third-most in WNBA history. The Sky were led by 25 points and eight assists from point guard Courtney Vandersloot, while Quigley had 13 points and seven assists. Candace Parker had a double-double (17 points and 10 rebounds), and reserve Azurá Stevens had a season-high 19 points.
Chicago was coming off a frustrating 89-87 loss at the Indiana Fever on Sunday in which the Sky missed five shots in the last 30 seconds, and which dropped their record to 10-5. Meanwhile, the Aces came into Tuesday at 13-2 and having won four in a row. In a matchup of the teams that will meet in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game in July, Las Vegas dominated early.
The Aces scored a WNBA-record 41 points in the first quarter, after which they led by 23. The lead climbed to 28 — 51-23 — in the second quarter. Las Vegas had a 23-0 run, the largest of any WNBA team this season and the biggest in league history against a defending champion.
The Sky’s offense started to click in the second quarter, though, as the Aces led 62-51 at the break. Five Las Vegas players scored in double figures in the first half, which is also a WNBA record. The teams’ combined 37 assists in the first half was a WNBA record for a half, and the combined 17 3-pointers tied a league record for a half.
But Chicago then outscored Las Vegas 53-33 in the second half. The two teams combined had nine players who finished with at least 15 points, which also ties a WNBA record.
“No matter what’s going on in a game, we believe we have a chance to win,” said Vandersloot, who has led the WNBA in assists the past five seasons and is atop that category again this year. “We lost a tough one at Indiana two days ago, so this was a big one for us.”
Coach James Wade, who led the Sky to the franchise’s first WNBA title last year, said his team’s experience helped Tuesday.
“Having people that have been through the wars to win championships says a lot,” Wade said. “It’s not easy to win in this league. You know that people beside you have done it, and so you have confidence in them.”