Natasha Howard and Sabrina Ionescu each scored 22 points Wednesday night and the visiting seventh-seeded New York Liberty scored the final 13 points to stun the No. 2 seed Chicago Sky 98-91 for a 1-0 lead in the teams' first-round WNBA playoff series.
Game 2 is Saturday in Chicago with the defending champions on the verge of a first-round sweep. If the Sky win, New York still gets to host a potential third game on Tuesday night.
Betnijah Laney added 17 points and Stefanie Dolson, who was a starter for last year's Chicago team, chipped in 13. The Liberty, who set a single-game franchise playoff scoring record, canned 49.3 percent of their shots from the field and drew 28 assists on 37 baskets.
Kahleah Copper's 21 points led five players in double figures for the Sky. Allie Quigley scored 18, Candace Parker added 17, reserve Azura Stevens had 16 and Courtney Vandersloot finished with 13. But Chicago went scoreless after Vandersloot sank a layup with 3:32 left for a 91-85 lead.
Howard hit a layup with 2:30 remaining to give New York the lead for good at 92-91. Ionescu and Laney combined for the final six points to put the game away.
The game's tone was set right away when neither team led by more than five points in a back-and-forth first quarter. Chicago used a 9-2 spurt late in the period to take a 24-20 advantage to the second stanza.
Quigley canned a floater in the lane at the 5:26 mark of the second quarter for a 37-28 lead, but New York owned the remainder of the half, taking advantage of Chicago turnovers. Marine Johannes' four-point play gave the Liberty the lead and they went to the intermission up 48-45.
Dolson's 3-pointer increased the New York advantage to 63-55 with 5:52 left in the third quarter, but the Sky stormed back later in the frame. Emma Meesseman converted a layup with one second left, putting Chicago ahead 74-73.
--Field Level Media