WNBA Finals rematch has few similarities, except for Sky victory
The most significant difference from last year’s Finals was the absence of Mercury center Brittney Griner, whose detention in Russia reached 103 days Tuesday.
Compared to Game 4 of the WNBA Finals last year, nothing was the same Tuesday night at Wintrust Arena, except for the Sky winning.
The retooled Mercury, now with former Sky guard Diamond DeShields and former Mystics center Tina Charles, the WNBA’s top scorer last season, led by eight points entering the fourth quarter. But guard Courtney Vandersloot took over from there, scoring 12 points in the final 10 minutes to lead the Sky to a 73-70 victory.
Mercury star Diana Taurasi was ejected in the second quarter after picking up two technical fouls while arguing a no-call with an official, but this time, no doors were broken when she left.
Nevertheless, the Sky’s offensive struggles continued against the Mercury. They shot under 20% from three-point range for most of the game and finished at 26.3%. Guard Allie Quigley, who had seven points, four rebounds and one assist, shot 1-for-3 from behind the arc and is off to her worst start in three-point shooting (16.7%) since her rookie season.
Vandersloot finished with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists. Emma Meesseman and Rebekah Gardner added 10 points each, and Kahleah Copper had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Candace Parker had just five points but led the Sky (5-3) in rebounds with 11.
“I don’t think we’re blending well on offense,” Vandersloot said.
Sky coach and general manager James Wade said he needs to spend more time watching his team’s movement on offense to assess how he can implement changes.
Azura Stevens was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness. Wade attributed it to something she ate.
Charles was the game’s high scorer with 25 points for the Mercury (2-7).
DeShields, who returned to Wintrust Arena for the first time since being traded in February, said she felt good about where she’s at in her career. After receiving her championship ring before the game, she had 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
“To be out there, moving around, taking hits, getting to the rim, doing the things I do has been very fun,” DeShields said before the game.
The most significant difference from last year’s WNBA Finals was the absence of Mercury center Brittney Griner, whose detention in Russia reached 103 days Tuesday. She has been held there since Feb. 17 after Russian authorities claimed to have found vape cartridges in her luggage that contained oil derived from cannabis.
“It didn’t feel right out there without her,” Vandersloot said. “We have to keep this top of mind, and we need the people who make decisions to bring her home.”
The Mercury announced ahead of the season that Griner’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, in partnership with the Phoenix Rescue Mission, would expand to all 12 WNBA markets. The Sky’s BG Heart and Sole Shoe Drive auction went live Tuesday afternoon with autographed shoes from Quigley, Vandersloot and Meesseman up for $300 a pair.
On top of the auction, the Sky collected more than 400 pairs of shoes Tuesday night from the team, fans and the Bulls and Blackhawks, who each contributed more than 100 pairs. All the shoes will be donated to the Sports Shed of Chicago.