UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot played her first season in the WNBA at age 22 in 2011, the same year Sheryl Swoopes ended her Hall of Fame career at age 40. Tuesday night, the two ran into each other again, this time in the record books.
Vandersloot scored a triple-double in a 101-95 double overtime win over the Connecticut Sun in the opening of their best-of-five semifinal series at Mohegan Sun Arena, joining Swoopes as the only players to achieve the milestone. in the history of the WNBA playoffs. Swoopes notched the first triple-double in the WNBA playoffs in 2005.
Vandersloot’s 3-pointer included 18 assists, a playoff record – which also equaled his WNBA single-game mark – and a career-high 10 rebounds. She also had 12 points, four steals and two blocked shots.
Swoopes had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Houston Comets in a victory that sealed the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Seattle Storm in September 2005.
“You know, she’s elite,” Vandersloot said of Swoopes, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who won four WNBA titles with Houston. “Being with that company, that’s special. And doing it in the playoffs. But it took me 55 minutes to do it.”
Swoopes’ triple-double in the playoffs was in regulation time, and she played 35 minutes, 50 seconds. Vandersloot was not on the floor the full 50 minutes Tuesday; she played 44 minutes, 23 seconds. Swoopes was 34 when he hit his triple-double; Vandersloot is 32.
Vandersloot led the WNBA in assists per game for the fifth year in a row this season and for the sixth year overall. She downplayed her stellar performance on Tuesday, saying she was “just doing my job.”
But her teammate Candace Parker, who led Sky with 22 points, was impressed. This is Parker’s first season playing alongside Vandersloot after signing with Chicago as a free agent.
“I think Sloot is humble,” Parker said. “But it’s amazing to do what she did. Defend, rebound, go down and ease under pressure. I think sometimes we get spoiled because we see him all the time, the plays he makes. It’s really been fun for me to see how she thinks. in the game and the way he’s two moves ahead. “
It was just the second loss for the top seed Sun since July 3; the other loss was in the final of the Commissioner’s Cup on August 12.
The No. 6 Sky came in as a seed underdog, but they looked as good as the Sun on Tuesday. As for Vandersloot, it was a historic performance as well as a very important victory for Chicago to lead, 1-0.
Chicago coach James Wade called it “one of the best point guard games in history,” adding, “I’m not surprised because this is what she does.”
DeWanna Bonner from Connecticut agreed.
“Sloot played a great game,” she said.
Sky has only reached the WNBA Finals once, and Vandersloot was on that team. The third pick from the 2011 draw, which came out of Gonzaga, has spent his entire career with Sky. His next goal will be to try to upset Connecticut’s defense again in Game 2 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN3).
The Sun led the WNBA in defense this season, limiting their opponents to just under 70 points in the regular season.
“We have to make Sloot uncomfortable a little more,” Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones said of the Sun’s assignment in Game 2. “She tore us apart today. She’s a very smart player.”