CHICAGO – Cheyenne Parker came off the bench and scored 18 points with 11 rebounds and the Chicago Sky held off the Seattle Storm 78-71 on Sunday night.
Stephanie Dolson added 15 points and former Gonzaga Bulldogs All-American Courtney Vandersloot 11 with seven assists for the Sky (2-2), who had their best defensive game of the season after giving up 105 in their last outing.
The defending champion and short-handed Storm (3-3) continued their pattern of following a win with a loss, three of the losses on the road. Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd had 20 points apiece.
Parker, who has lost nearly 30 pounds in the past few seasons, has focused more on her nutrition and on eating a more balanced diet. (The Sky don’t have a nutritionist on staff.)
The result? A faster, stronger and more agile player.
‘‘Pushing my body to the next level helped me kind of find what I’m capable of doing, how far I can push myself, and it helped me just physically get in the best shape possible,’’ said Parker, who helped the Sky outscore the Storm 35-9 off the bench.
“She dominated the game,’’ Sky coach James Wade said of Parker. ‘‘That’s what we needed from her. She works hard. We just want her to reward herself by seeing it out there when she’s on the floor during game time.’’
Wade said he was especially proud of Parker’s aggressive rebounding, which was a point of emphasis at practice last week. The Sky outrebounded the Storm 45-22.
‘‘I want the bench to push the starters,’’ Wade said. ‘‘I want them to make it harder for me to put [the starters] back in, which they actually did tonight. It was kind of hard to take them out. That’s a good problem. I wish I had that problem every day.’’
The Sky held a 26-point lead at one point in the first half, but it dwindled in part because of poor ballhandling, which has been a constant problem this season. The Sky, who average the second-most turnovers in the league, finished with 20 turnovers — 17 of them in the last three quarters.
Chicago got off to a strong start, leading 29-16 after one quarter and 43-17 early in the second but Seattle scored 17 straight points and closed with 44-34 at the half.
The Storm were as close as six in the third quarter but a 9-0 run early in the third quarter pushed the lead to 71-55.
Seattle shot 38 percent and was 3 of 18 from distance. Chicago, which had 20 turners, had eight 3-pointers but only had eight points from the foul line while the Storm was 16 of 19.
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