Led by their ‘Queen of the Fourth,’ Sky edge Sun for franchise-record 25th win
Candace Parker reached another career milestone, becoming the fifth player in WNBA history with 600 career blocks.
Courtney Vandersloot always has answered to the nickname “Sloot.” It almost can be mistaken for boos when shouted in drawn-out unison by fans at Wintrust Arena.
This season, Vandersloot has adopted a new nickname because of her late-game performances that have her second in the WNBA with 57 clutch points: Queen of the Fourth.
“Maybe the Mother of Dragons gave it to her,” Sky coach/general manager James Wade said when asked who came up with the name.
On Sunday, the Sky took another step toward solidifying the top playoff seed with a 94-91 victory against the Sun to sweep the four-game season series. The victory gave them the first 25-win season in their history.
Vandersloot finished with 20 points — nine of which came in the fourth quarter — five assists, four steals and two rebounds. She shot 3-for-6 from deep, hitting back-to-back three-pointers with her team trailing by six with seven minutes left in the game.
“I love seeing Sloot so fired up,” teammate Emma Meesseman said. “We needed that energy. It fired us all up and gave us that fire to have some big possessions.”
Sky players have notched career milestones all season, but Vandersloot and Candace Parker seemingly have done it every game.
In the Sky’s overtime victory against the Sun last week, Vandersloot passed Lindsay Whalen for third on the league’s all-time assist list. On Sunday, Parker became the fifth player in WNBA history with 600 career blocks, joining Margo Dydek, Lisa Leslie, Brittney Griner and Sylvia Fowles. She also notched another double-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal.
Kahleah Copper, who had 11 points and four assists, joked that those two break so many records, the team has become accustomed to it. She added that Wade always makes time to give his players flowers during their postgame breakdown.
Parker missed the Sky’s overtime victory against the Sun because of a non-COVID-related illness. Wade said she still was working to find her rhythm after missing two games at the end of July.
He typically likes to keep his players under 30 minutes and has the depth to do that. But Parker played 33 minutes Sunday and felt like she had a better flow than in her first game back after the illness Friday against the Mystics.
The Sky took a 17-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Sun closed out the quarter on a 23-10 run, playing a more disciplined game on both ends of the floor. They tightened up their shot selection, which prevented the Sky from getting easy points in transition. The Sun outscored the Sky 32-19 in the period and went into the half trailing by four.
DeWanna Bonner led the Sun with 18 points, and Jonquel Jones had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
With three games left in the regular season, the Sky clinched no worse than the No. 2 playoff seed. They own the tiebreaker with the Sun, who currently are seeded third.
“We know from last year it’s two different seasons once the postseason starts,” Parker said. “I’m big on the result is in our favor, but we still have to see the things we can fix.”