Sky lose fourth straight despite career night from Courtney Vandersloot


The Sky entered their game Sunday against the Sparks at Wintrust Arena looking for their first home victory, and they started by playing like it.

When the Sky opened a 17-point lead in the first half, it seemed as though they would do it. But another game of 20-plus turnovers and a depleted bench resulted in their fourth consecutive loss — all at home — with the Sparks earning an 82-79 victory in overtime.

‘‘We didn’t execute well,’’ Sky coach James Wade said. ‘‘We were careless in some situations, defensively and offensively. We had some mental breaks, and it caused us to get behind.’’

Wade attributed the lapses to the lack of rest players were able to get during the game. The Sky (2-4) had only eight players available against the Sparks, six with WNBA experience. Rookies Shyla Heal and Stephanie Watts played less than 10 minutes each.

When Astou Ndour-Fall and Ruthy Hebard were called for their fourth fouls in the third quarter, Wade had limited options. Hebard ended up fouling out in overtime.

Azura Stevens is still on a minutes restriction, but she ended up playing nearly 30 minutes. Diamond DeShields and Kahleah Copper played more than 40 minutes and Courtney Vandersloot 39.

Heal committed two turnovers against the Sparks. Wade said she still has a lot of growing to do. He said these games are like training camp for her, and they’re the only time she has been able to get five-on-five experience.

The Sky haven’t been able to practice five-on-five since their second game of the season. Wade attributed another night of high turnovers to that and said the Sky have to be more selective about when they attack.

‘‘It’s difficult,’’ Vandersloot said. ‘‘That’s why we lost four in a row. Fortunately for us, it’s early in the season. We’re going to keep our heads up. We know the circumstance is temporary.’’

In her 300th game, Vandersloot finished with a career-high 28 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Vandersloot created momentum-changing plays throughout the game. With the Sky trailing by five with less than two minutes left in overtime, she sank a three-pointer from the top of the key. The Sparks’ Brittney Sykes was called for a flagrant-1 foul on the play, and the ensuing free throw made it a four-point play.

The Sky were in position to jump ahead, but a couple of late turnovers were too much for them to overcome.

‘‘When it came down to the end, we turned it over,’’ Wade said. ‘‘If we don’t turn it over in those situations, we maybe have an opportunity to score or get back in the game.’’

Wade said he expects injured Candace Parker (ankle) and Allie Quigley (hamstring) to return this week, Parker before Quigley.

Stefanie Dolson is expected to be back with the Sky on Tuesday against the Mercury after securing a bid to the Tokyo Olympics with USA Basketball’s 3×3 team. As a result, the Sky waived rookie Natasha Mack.

The Sky entered the game with the worst turnover average and points allowed off turnovers in the league. Their 22 turnovers against the Sparks didn’t help that.

‘‘I think this was a turning point for us,’’ Vandersloot said.



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