Sky pull off late-game comeback, defeat Storm 90-85

The victory moved the Sky 1 1/2 games behind the Sparks in the battle for eighth and final playoff spot and added to the importance of the matchup between the teams Tuesday in Los Angeles.

SHARE Sky pull off late-game comeback, defeat Storm 90-85

SEATTLE — The Sky have struggled to overcome fourth-quarter deficits all season, so history wasn’t on their side when they went into the final 10 minutes Sunday trailing the Storm by seven.

There were a couple of notable differences, however, in this late-game scenario. Ultimately, the most important in the Sky’s 90-85 victory ended up being Dana Evans’ presence on the court.

With the Sky (14-21) trailing by two with two minutes left, Evans came up with a steal and found a wide-open Kahleah Copper, who made a go-ahead three-pointer from the corner. It was Evans’ only steal of the game and the only one she needed.

‘‘In that moment, I knew I was getting her the ball because she’s clutch for us and she’s going to get it done,’’ Evans said. “When it went in, I was like, ‘Ya, that’s why I did it.’ ’’

Copper struggled with her shot, finishing 4-for-18 from the field. But she was 9-for-11 from the free-throw line and had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to go with four assists and five steals.

When Copper got the opportunity to put the Sky ahead with her late-game three, her confidence to make the shot stemmed from her preparation.

‘‘[I don’t] drop my head and not have a Plan B,’’ Copper said of her shooting woes. ‘‘Like, now I’m getting on the boards. I’m getting deflections. I’m trying to put my teammates in the best position, so now I’m passing the ball and getting assists. Sometimes if it’s not your night, it’s not about just you.

‘‘If my shots aren’t falling, as the leader of the team, I have to be able to go to something else.’’

Interim coach/general manager Emre Vatansever went with a small lineup to close the game, with Evans, Copper, Marina Mabrey, Courtney Williams and Elizabeth Williams on the court.

Copper joked she couldn’t remember the last time she played the power-forward spot. Ultimately, it was a difference-maker. The group came up with pivotal late-game steals and outscored the Storm 22-10 in the fourth.

Elizabeth Williams scored a game-high 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field. Mabrey added 16 points, Evans 14 points and six assists and Courtney Williams 10 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Trailing by three with 27 seconds left, the Storm called a timeout. Coach Noelle Quinn drew up a play for star Jewell Loyd, who got a wide-open look on a three-pointer from the corner but missed. She finished with 19 points, leaving her one shy of 800 this season.

The victory moved the Sky 1 1/2 games behind the Sparks (15-19) in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot and added to the importance of the matchup between the teams Tuesday in Los Angeles.

If the Sparks win, the teams will split the four-game season series. That means if the teams finish the regular season tied for the eighth playoff spot, the first tiebreaker — head-to-head record — would be even.

The second tiebreaker is better record against teams with a .500 record or better. In that case, the Sparks have the edge right now with a 4-6 record against the Aces, Liberty, Sun and Wings. The Sky are 3-8 against those teams.

‘‘We want to get in the playoffs, and so do they,’’ Evans said. ‘‘So it’s going to be a hard-fought fight.

NOTE: Sky forward Alanna Smith went down with eight minutes left in the second quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game after entering the WNBA’s concussion protocol.

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