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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Annie Costabile

Alanna Smith, Dana Evans propel Sky past Fever in overtime

The Sky’s Alanna Smith celebrates a three point basket during overtime Tuesday night. (NBAE via Getty Images)

Although Sky newcomer Alanna Smith had previously played with the Mercury and Fever in the WNBA, overseas is where the forward had found her biggest success — until now.

On Tuesday night against the Fever, Smith didn’t look like someone with just 71 WNBA appearances, but rather a veteran capable of executing with the game on the line. And that’s exactly what she did, scoring on a layup to send the game to overtime and then making the go-ahead basket with less than a minute to play to help secure a 108-103 victory at Wintrust Arena.

“I just rewatched the [layup to end regulation,] and it looked like I was going in slow motion,” Smith said. “Knowing my teammates have the confidence to pass to me in a big moment like that gives me all the confidence I need.” 

Guard Dana Evans added nine points in the extra period, shooting 2-for-2 from three-point range, and finished with 20 points and seven assists. 

“She changed the game when she came in in the first half,” coach and general manager James Wade said. “I didn’t feel like we had the pressure on the ball that we needed. When Dana came in, the level rose.”

Wade’s defensive philosophy comes down to accountability. But with 10 seconds to play in regulation and the game tied at 89, the Sky lacked it in their attempt to defend Aliyah Boston, who got an easy putback off a missed layup by Erica Wheeler to give the Fever the lead. In fact, in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Boston made the Sky pay for being a step behind in rotations. On one play specifically, she had a wide-open layup after getting switched onto Evans with no help in sight.

She scored 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the fourth before finishing with a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. Wade still said he was pleased with his team’s effort in making Boston uncomfortable.

“[Boston] had a great game,” Wade said.

Aside from that, the Sky had a strong overall defensive showing. Guard Marina Mabrey (game-high 28 points) and Evans each contributed three steals to the Sky’s 10. As a team, the Sky scored 25 points off 16 Fever turnovers. 

Forward Kahleah Copper added 24 points and Smith finished with 18, shooting 7-for-9 from the field. 

Eight available

Forward Ruthy Hebard ran contact drills and offensive sets with the Sky on Tuesday for the first time since giving birth in April. Wade said there’s no change to her status and she’s still working toward returning to game action. 

Center/forward Kristine Anigwe, whom Wade signed to a maternity replacement contract, will be away from the team for at least five games — a temporary suspension that will allow her to complete her international responsibilities with Britain’s national team.

Against the Fever, the Sky had just eight players available. Wade had intended to sign Australian player Anneli Maley to a temporary hardship exception contract, given injuries to guard Rebekah Gardner and forward Morgan Bertsch, but said Tuesday morning that Maley would not be joining the team. 

The emergency exception can be used when a team drops below 10 available players. Even with Bertsch’s imminent return, the Sky would still have just nine available while Anigwe is competing in Eurobasket. Wade and his staff are still considering potential players to sign.

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