Liberty captures Sky’s six-game winning streak

NEW YORK – Sky’s Rebecca Gardner isn’t a rookie, but her lack of WNBA experience defines her that way.

Playing their second game in as many days on Saturday, Sky reduced their last-quarter deficit from 10 points to one when general manager/coach James Wade pulled Gardner off the bench. Moments later, she scored the kick-off after stealing a pass that had been intended for Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu.

It was a play that showcased the experience she had against some of the best players in the WNBA for 10 years abroad and the clamor that made it into the WNBA’s All-Defensive Team talks.

Gardner and Ionescu exchange buckets and plays that change the rules of the game for most of the game. But Ionescu had perhaps the biggest game of the night when he finished the race on the edge and Gardner fouled with nine seconds left. Ionesco’s free throw gave Liberty a one-point lead.

Candice Parker missed a corner kick with 1.8 seconds left that would have given Sky the lead, and Liberty survived with an 83-80 victory to break Sky’s six-game winning streak. And led UNESCO Liberty with 17 points eight in the fourth quarter.

“It went up and you might have fleshed me out a little bit,” Gardner said of Ionesco. “I should do a better job of exaggerating with my hand raised. Plays like this happens.”

Parker had his second straight double with 21 points and 11 rebounds and passed Tamika Catchings to finish fourth on the WNBA’s all-time rebounds list. Qahliya Cooper added 17 points and Gardner added 16 points and four shots.

Playing back-to-back games is less than ideal under any circumstance, but in the WNBA – whose teams fly commercially and have an average roster size of 11 players – it poses a risk to players’ health.

After their 21st win on Friday at the Wintrust Arena, Team Sky (21-7) were on their way to O’Hare Airport about seven hours later on their 6 a.m. flight. The flight ended up being delayed by more than an hour due to a severe thunderstorm and ended up leaving after 8 am.

Delays are frustrating at any time, but the fact that Sky must be ready to go to Barclays Center for information at 6 p.m. exacerbated their problems.

The team’s coaching staff said routines are important in back-to-back scenarios, so the pre-game meals and warm-ups remained the same. But there was no time to rest.

However, Heaven was meant to focus on controlling what they could, and that was their play. But they were far from their best, shooting 37% from the field and 12.5% ​​(3 for 24) from a three-point range. Season averages are 48.3% and 35.3%, respectively.

They stayed close due to their defense, took 12 steals (about twice their average per game) and scored 27 Liberty turnovers.

“There was a stretch in fourth where we really got it,” Cooper said. “We shrank because our insult wasn’t going. We had to raise our defense.”

Point guard Courtney Vanderslot missed her fourth consecutive game in concussion protocol. Wade said she’s doing well but doesn’t have a timeline for her comeback.

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