ROSEMONT, Ill. – The crossovers, the drives, the picks.
It all became too much for the Seattle Storm to keep up with, as Chicago’s trio of newly named All-Stars broke down the defending WNBA champions in a 78-69 victory at Allstate Arena on Tuesday.
Trailing 71-69 with 1:56 remaining, Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright of the Storm each had the ball stolen from them during the Sky’s 9-0 closing run. The Storm gave up 30 points on 17 turnovers.
“We’re just breaking down,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “I don’t think it’s one major thing. We have turned it over in critical times, missed some free throws and had some defensive breakdowns.”
Normally, Chicago (8-8) is the team talking about late breakdowns. The Sky leads the league in turnovers (18.4 per game). Yet, they escaped unscathed against Seattle (7-7) behind guard Courtney Vandersloot’s leadership.
The rookie was named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve Tuesday in voting by coaches, joining teammates Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles. Vandersloot, a former Gonzaga star, was one of three rookies named to play in Saturday’s game in San Antonio.
Only 16 games into her pro career, she displayed why she deserved the nod before a national television audience. Vandersloot ran her team with efficiency after a turnover-filled opening half, helping Fowles and Prince finish with 24 and 23 points, respectively.
“Right towards the end of the game, I was thinking about how I went to their (Storm) games growing up, and I was even in the stands in college watching them,” said Vandersloot after her first win over her hometown team. Angie Bjorklund of Spokane and Cathrine Kraayeveld of Kirkland, Wash., are also on the Chicago roster.
“It’s kind of surreal and a good feeling to walk out with a victory,” said Vandersloot, who finished with 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Agler started 6-foot-4 center Ashley Robinson over forward Le’coe Willingham (6-0) to get some height against the 6-6 Fowles, who entered the game as the league’s leading scorer (20.4 per game).
But when Robinson fouled out with 3:03 left, Vandersloot was more confident in driving to the hoop for baskets while Prince made wicked crossovers to get open and score.
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