Sky win fourth in a row despite Courtney Vandersloot’s absence

The Sky had 25 assists, marking the 16th straight game in which they’ve had at least 20 — a WNBA record.

SHARE Sky win fourth in a row despite Courtney Vandersloot’s absence

Kahleah Copper had a double-double against the Wings with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

NBAE via Getty Images

DALLAS — Courtney Vandersloot hadn’t missed a game for the Sky in almost two years. After suffering a concussion in the victory over the Sparks on Thursday, she was forced to sit out Saturday, ending her run of 88 consecutive games played.

Vandersloot wasn’t with the team. Instead, she watched the Sky beat the Wings 89-81 for their fourth straight win from the team’s hotel. Coach/general manager James Wade received a text from her at halftime that read, “Keep pushing the ball in transition.”

One of the reasons Vandersloot is one of the top guards in the WNBA is her ability to see what her team needs and deliver it. That was missed against the Wings, specifically as the Sky struggled from three-point range (21.7%). 

But they maintained their typical ball movement, finishing with 25 assists, marking the 16th straight game in which they’ve had at least 20 — a league record.

“I’m proud of us,” Wade said. “Everybody’s on the same page of thinking I’m going to sacrifice to make this team better.”

Wade said the team doesn’t have a timetable for Vandersloot’s return.

The league’s concussion protocols prohibit a player from returning to play for at least two days, including the date of diagnosis, and she must complete a required return-to-participation process. 

The Sky’s next game is Wednesday against the Storm. Depending on Vandersloot’s process, which includes tests with a team physician experienced in concussion management, she could be available to play.

Wade built his team to withstand injuries, but he said it won’t be successful without Vandersloot for an extended period.

Julie Allemand started in Vandersloot’s place. Wade’s intention was to keep all of his players under 30 minutes, and he nearly succeeded.

Kahleah Copper, Allie Quigley and Emma Meesseman each played 31 minutes. Copper finished with a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Meesseman also had 23 points.

Wade’s rotation didn’t look much different without Vandersloot. He used Dana Evans where Allemand typically would be and had Azura Stevens as an option to move to shooting guard, if necessary.

Allemand did a great job facilitating, finishing with eight assists and zero turnovers, but didn’t create her own looks. She had two points on 1-for-3 shooting.

“I told her, ‘Look at the basket,’ ’’ Wade said. “I want her to be herself. Her thing is she wants to make everybody better. How can I get on her for not looking at the rim when she has eight assists and zero turnovers?”

The Sky had a difficult time defending the Wings from beyond the arc and sent them to the free-throw line 27 times. Guard Marina Mabrey went 3-for-5 from deep and led the Wings with 22 points. Arike Ogunbowale added 15 points, and Allisha Gray had 14.

The Sky entered the fourth quarter down six but outscored the Wings 30-16 in the last 10 minutes. Without Vandersloot, the Sky are still one of the best teams in the league, and they showed it.

“[Vandersloot’s absence is] short-term,” Wade said. “I don’t want to coach without her, but we have a good team to sustain things without her.”

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