Sky rally again, force Game 3 in East finals

Sky-Fever

Elena Delle Donne reacts after the Sky topped the Fever 86-84 in double overtime. (Rob Hart / Photo for the Tribune / September 1, 2014)

Courtney Vandersloot made it sound like it was no big deal to get steamrollered.

"I'm bigger than I look," Vandersloot said. "I can take it."

"Pound for pound, she's the toughest player," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of Vandersloot.

The point guard, who looks significantly lighter than her listed 145 pounds on a 5-foot-8 body, was pancaked running into a hard screen as the Sky lost Game 1 of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals. Then she was mashed to the floor taking a charge early in Monday's Game 2.

"That's part of my game," she said. "I try to get in front of people, and I have to take the contact. Your adrenaline takes over, and you don't really feel anything."

So, like a Sky team relentlessly pounded this season by injuries, illness and personal issues, Vandersloot simply bounced back.

So did the Sky, rallying from an 11-point deficit midway through the third quarter to beat the Indiana Fever 86-84 in double overtime at Allstate Arena and force a deciding Game 3 Wednesday in Indianapolis.

"Sloot gets hammered a lot," Sky center Sylvia Fowles said. "She's just a warrior. She gets up and keeps fighting and gets pissed and shakes it off."

Fowles, fighting through foul trouble that sidelined her the final 6 minutes, 34 seconds of the first half, finished with 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting. Her fall-away jumper put the Sky ahead for good with four minutes left in the pulsating game, just the fourth multiple overtime playoff game in WNBA history.

Allie Quigley, living up to her recent selection as the league's sixth woman of the year, provided the winning points on a 21-foot jumper with 1:04 to play. Quigley had 16 points and five assists, and her consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter gave the Sky life after they had fallen behind by 14.

Vandersloot, still trying to find herself after returning in mid-August from a knee strain that sidelined her 17 games, stayed in Monday's game after being run over by the Fever's Marissa Coleman. But she spent much of the second quarter on the bench and had just six points, one assist and no rebounds at halftime.

From then on, she played every minute until fouling out with 1:23 left in the second overtime. Her line after intermission: 12 points, four assists, three rebounds — and no turnovers.

"Because of unfortunate circumstances, it's second nature for them to bounce back," Chatman said.

In their three playoff wins this season, the Sky have overcome deficits of 14, 20 and 14 points. This time, relentless defense keyed the turnaround that ended in the first home playoff victory in franchise history.

The Sky also overcame yet another physical problem Monday. Tightness in her lower back left Elena Delle Donne twice to lie on the court while a trainer stretched her, and Delle Donne managed just nine points and three rebounds.

For the second straight game, the Sky's Tamera Young harassed the Fever's Tamika Catchings into an unremarkable offensive performance. Catchings finished with 16 points, but she shot just 7-for-22 and got to the foul line just once, as Young blocked her from slashing through the paint.

phersh@tribune.com

Twitter @olyphil

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