Sky preseason ends with victory against Lynx in WNBA’s first game in Canada

Kahleah Copper led the Sky with 18 points. The teams will play again in the regular-season opener Saturday in Minneapolis.

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The Chicago Sky take on the Minnesota Lynx during the first half of a preseason WNBA basketball game in Toronto, Saturday May 13, 2023. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) ORG XMIT: CHY101

Chris Young, AP Photos

There’s an undeniable shift taking place in the WNBA, and it was on display Saturday in Toronto as the league celebrated its first game in Canada. The Sky added an extra highlight by beating the Lynx 82-74 to close their preseason schedule.

Whether it was Toronto deputy mayor Jennifer McKelvie proclaiming May 13 as ‘‘WNBA Day’’ or that the game sold out in minutes, the fact is that the women’s game is growing. The significance of that interest was top of mind for players and coaches.

‘‘This is the epitome of the enthusiasm that’s being shown for women’s sports in general,’’ Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ‘‘It was awesome to see Canada step up in that way and say: ‘Yeah, we feel it here, too. We’re excited about this, and we feel we’re a great place for a WNBA team.’ This is really pivotal. We’re going to look back on this and say this was really meaningful.’’

The Sky arrived in Toronto on Thursday. From the moment they touched down in Canada, they said the support and love from the fan base was evident.

But while the game was a celebratory moment for the WNBA, it was also an opportunity for Reeve and Sky coach/general manager James Wade to continue the evaluation of their rosters. The Sky’s roster is at 16 players, but Wade will have to cut it to no more than 12 by Thursday.

‘‘We prepare like we want to win the game,’’ Wade said. ‘‘But we also prepare like we want to evaluate the players that are on the cusp of making the roster.’’

Guard Marina Mabrey, forward Elizabeth Williams and center Isabelle Harrison didn’t play Saturday. Mabrey was a late arrival to training camp after winning a championship with her overseas team in Italy and didn’t play in any of the Sky’s three preseason games. Williams was in concussion protocol all week after taking a hard fall in the Sky’s preseason game last Sunday, and Harrison’s availability in Canada wasn’t made clear. She didn’t play in the game and it appeared as though she wasn’t with the team in Toronto.

Harrison wasn’t with the team for media day Wednesday, but Wade said her absence wasn’t because of injury.

Guard Courtney Williams said the Sky’s top priority in their preseason finale was to continue to establish their hard-nosed mentality.

‘‘There’s only so much we can do,’’ Williams said. ‘‘We don’t have all of our pieces just yet. So just continuing to play hard defensively, trying to mesh and get our offense running smoothly.’’

Kristine Anigwe and Robyn Parks, both fringe players, got heavy minutes in Wade’s rotation. Parks shot 4-for-6 from three-point range, but the Sky struggled from behind the arc overall. Kahleah Copper scored 18 points to lead the Sky, who closed the game on a 25-10 run.

The teams will play again in the regular-season opener Saturday in Minneapolis.

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