Maurice Dixon


ROSEMONT, IL — Already trailing by two games in the series and nine at the break of Game 3 of the WNBA semifinals, the Chicago Sky adjusted their defense to avoid elimination with a 70-66 home victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday afternoon.

Courtney Vandersloot scored 11 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter and Imani Boyette added 13 and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which outscored the Sparks 40-27 in the second half.

We played together and played good defense in that second half,” Vandersloot said. “I think in the third quarter we held them to eight points or something ridiculous like that. We knew coming back home that they hadn’t seen our best shot. We just want to keep it going.”

Before the end of the second quarter, the Sky were on the verge of being beat convincingly for  a third straight time. But with the use of the 2-3 zone, they slowly chipped away at their deficit and Vandersloot gave them their first lead of 47-45 with 2:11 left since a 2-0 edge in the first quarter.

Chicago entered the final period with a 49-47 edge, but the lead changed hands several times due to some big-time 3-pointers by Kristi Toliver (13 points).

With 1:30 left, Toliver nailed a 3-pointer for a 64-62 L.A. advantage. But the Sky took control from there. On the next trip down the floor, Boyette rebounded Clarissa dos Santos’ miss and layed it in to tie the score. Then following a steal by Jamierra Faulkner steal, Boyette put back her own miss for a 66-64 edge with 45 seconds remaining.

On the other end, Toliver missed a 3-pointer and Vandersloot, who didn’t need to shoot, nailed a risky jumper from the elbow for a 68-64 with 15 seconds to go that virtually sealed things for the Sky.

Thanks to 16 first-half points by Nneka Ogwumike, the Sparks led by as many as 15 points in the first 20 minutes and 39-30 at the half. The reigning MVP led all scorers with 22 points.

Candace Parker pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for Los Angeles, which shot 37 percent (26-of-71) from the floor and 6-of-33 (18 percent) from 3-point range.

“To beat them again, we got to make them uncomfortable,” Vandersloot said. “I think everything that they got they had to work really hard for and that was the key down the stretch.”

Game 4 is back at the Allstate Arena on Tuesday night.