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Vandersloot scores 17 as Sky force Game 4 against Sparks

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Vandersloot scores 17 as Sky force Game 4 against Sparks

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Courtney Vandersloot scored 17 points and the Chicago Sky held off the Los Angeles Sparks 70-66 on Sunday to force a Game 4 in the WNBA semifinals.

Imani Boyette added 13 points and Clarissa Dos Santos had 10 for the fourth-seeded Sky, who have been playing without leading scorer and rebounder Elena Delle Donne. The 2015 league MVP underwent right thumb surgery on Sept. 13.

League MVP Nneka Ogwumike had 16 of her 22 points in the first half and Kristi Toliver added 13 for the second-seeded Sparks, who won the first two games of the series at home by double digits.

The Sky shot 41.7 percent from the field to Los Angeles' 36.6 percent.

Two-time MVP Candace Parker shot 3 for 14 from the field for nine points and league sixth woman of the year Jantel Lavender finished with six points for the Sparks.

Defending champion and top-seeded Minnesota has a 2-0 lead over Phoenix over in the other semifinal series, with Game 3 later Sunday. The Lynx are aiming for their fourth title in six years.

Ogwumike hit a layup for a 57-56 Sparks lead with 5:11 left for her first points since the second quarter. Kristi Toliver came up with the steal and hit both free throws to give the Sparks a one-point lead with 2:00 left before Boyette answered with a layup. Toliver hit a 3, but Boyette's layup tied it with 1:14 left. Boyette made another layup and Vandersloot hit a jumper for a four-point lead. Ogwumike missed a 3 with 8 seconds left, and Vandersloot made two free throws to seal the victory.

The Sky opened the third quarter with a 17-6 run to take the lead. Boyette scored seven points and Jessica Breland added six in the period for a 49-47 Sky lead going into the final quarter. Ogwumike and Parker were scoreless in the third.

The Sparks led by 15 in the first half, but the Sky scored the final six points of the second quarter to pull within nine at halftime.

Ogwumike scored 12 points and the Sparks shot 60 percent from the field to take a 23-14 lead after the first quarter. After the Sky scored the game's first two points, the Sparks went on a 9-0 run and didn't trail again.

Los Angeles routed the Sky 95-75 and 99-84 in the other games in the series. The Sparks have won five of their six meetings this season.

TIDBITS

Sparks co-owner Magic Johnson was in attendance. ... The Sparks scored at least 93 points in four of their previous five meetings with Chicago this season. ... During the regular season, Los Angeles led the WNBA with a 48.7 percent field goal percentage, while the Sky topped the league in scoring at 86.2 points per game.

STILL OUT

Delle Donne was in street clothes during the game and has missed nine straight games. She averaged 21.5 points to share the league scoring title with New York's Tina Charles.

UP NEXT

Game 4 is back here Tuesday night.

Sky pick a pair of players from power programs in top 5 of draft

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USA TODAY

Sky pick a pair of players from power programs in top 5 of draft

The first year of the post-Elena Delle Donne era for the Chicago Sky did not go well.

The Sky limped to a 12-22 record without the former WNBA MVP and scoring champ. As the Bulls are about to experience, the upside of a losing season is a high draft pick the next year.

The Sky had the third and fourth picks in the draft, which took place on Thursday, and snagged a pair of players from powerhouse programs in women's college basketball.

At No. 3 the Sky picked up Diamond DeShields from Tennessee. She led the Lady Vols in scoring in the 2016-17 season, but that was her junior year. She elected to sign overseas with Cukurova in Turkey instead of playing out her final year of eligibility. The New York Times profiled her just ahead of the WNBA draft.

Oh, and she's also the daughter of former major leaguer Delino DeShields and her brother, Delino DeShields Jr., is currently an outfielder for the Texas Rangers.

At No. 4, the Sky picked up UConn forward Gabby Williams. Williams started every game in each of the last two seasons for the Huskies, which went undefeated in the regular season and made the Final Four both of those seasons.

Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

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Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

ROSEMONT — Jonquel Jones scored 19 of her career-high 23 points in the second half and finished with 21 rebounds to help the Connecticut Sun beat the Chicago Sky 97-79 on Sunday night.

Jones, who set her previous career best of 20 rebounds on May 13, became the 12th player in WNBA history with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game. Alyssa Thomas had 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals and Lynetta Kizer scored 16 with seven rebounds for Connecticut (1-4), which won its first game of the season.

Kizer’s jumper midway through the first quarter made it 14-13 and the Sun led the rest of the way. Jessica Breland hit two free throws to pull Chicago (1-5) within four with 4:37 left in the third, but Jones scored seven points during a 10-3 run over the next three-plus minutes and the Sky got no closer.

Tamera Young led Chicago with 17 points. She has at least one made 3-pointer in each of the last five games after going nearly five calendar years (June 23, 2011) since her last 3.