DeShields Drops 27 Points Against Indiana Fever

GAME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Diamond DeShields posted 19 first-half points, finishing with a game-high 27 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal.
  • Indiana outscored the Sky by 14 points (31-17) in the third quarter, to take their first lead of the game, notching their fourth win this season when trailing at the half.

SKY NOTES:

  • Diamond DeShields posted a game-high 27 points, and scored 20+ points in Chicago’s final three games of the season, finishing with nine 20+ point performances in her rookie campaign.
  • Gabby Williams scored nine points, with five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Williams led the WNBA in the regular season for steals.
  • Cheyenne Parker led the bench in scoring with 12 points, as the second unit ended with 36 of the teams 92 points.
  • The Sky dished out 29 assists on 36 made field goals. The Sky finished second in the WNBA in assists per game.

FEVER NOTES:

  • Candice Dupree knocked down 10 shots on 16 attempts to finish with a team-high 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one block and one steal.
  • Cappie Pondexter scored a season-high 22 points, as she shot a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and 9-of-14 from the field.
  • Three Fever starters along with two bench players scored in double-digits: Candice Dupree (22), Cappie Pondexter (22), Natalie Achonwa (11).Tiffany Mitchell (14), and Kelsey Mitchell (14).
  • Natalie Achonwa nearly recorded a double-double, with 11 points and nine rebounds.
POSTGAME QUOTES:

SKY GENERAL MANAGER AND HEAD COACH AMBER STOCKS
On the game:

“I know there’s probably a split jury where half the people are looking at the final score and the other half are looking at the players who played on the court and are really excited about the way we spread the ball, spread the minutes and got everyone a chance to get on the court and play in front of the fans. The fans had an opportunity to get a small little taste of what the future of [the Sky] is going to look like.”On Indiana’s defense on DeShields:
“We mixed up some things on the way we were scoring the basketball, but the main thing Indiana did was they really focused on Diamond [DeShields]. She had a great first half and they came out in the second half and put two defenders on her multiple times. When she faces double teams, she’s a great passer. We saw the looks she hit Allie [Quigley] on and [her ability] to move the ball to open teammates in the open court, but also in the half-court against double teams.”

On coaching a young team:
“I’m just a person who sees fewer challenges in life than opportunities, and with this roster, there’s a lot of opportunities to coach. As a coach who loves to teach, there’s a lot of opportunities to teach things the players and then the players teach me as well. We all learn from each other. The youth are all learning each other and learning how to play together.”

On what the team can improve on in the future:
“There were a lot of bright spots in this game. We’ve been talking about our field goal percentage needing to continue to be high and to go over 48 percent. Today we shot almost 54 percent from the field, and we had a lot of efficiency in ball movement. You look at, one, two, three, four, five, six players took over six shots, and that’s good ball movement. That’s the type of depth and attack that we want to play with. Now, when I say six, understand [Courtney Vandersloot] didn’t. She only took four. We know she’s another player that has the capability of being efficient on offense.”

On the team’s passing game:
“Another thing that we look at that is a big highlight for us, is our ability to move the basketball. We had 29 assists, and that’s been a trademark. Our brand of basketball is being able to pass: knowing when to make the next pass and knowing when to make the next pass. Whether it’s reversing the ball for Diamond to take a shot, reversing the ball for [Cheyenne Parker] or Stef [Dolson] to drive – yes, Stef, drive – or reversing the ball for Linnae [Harper] to knock down the open 3 in the slot, that’s how we play and everybody understands it. It might be their turn to make it, or it might be their turn to take it, but we’re very good at finding each other for the next pass. Sometimes a little bit too much.”

On the importance of scoring in the paint:
“We did a good job today of driving the basketball. And when it starts outside and when Diamond set the tone by attacking the defense and getting the ball inside off the dribble, Stef [Dolson] came in the second half and made two outstanding drives to the basket back-to-back. Of course, we all know that [Cheyenne] Parker has the ability to do that. The points in the paint is a combination of transition, offensive rebounds, post feeds and then drives and finishes at the rim.”

SKY GUARD DIAMOND DESHIELDS
On one thing she’s taken away from this season:

“The biggest takeaway for me is just to continue to be myself. There were games where I hushed myself on the court for the sake of the rest of my teammates. Sometimes it was Allie [Quigley], sometimes it was [Courtney Vandersloot], sometimes it was Stef [Dolson]. But there are other ways for me to impact the game, and I have to do that. For me being so dynamic, if it’s not my night scoring then it’s my night defensively. It’s my night doing something else. Just always looking for opportunities to impact the game is what I need to focus on rather than just scoring.”

SKY FORWARD CHEYENNE PARKER
On what it took to have a breakout season:

Just maturing. Building, learning, trying to take in as much as I can IQ-wise. Being overseas helps as well with the confidence level. So when I came [in], I just focused on being confident, being aggressive and the rest just came.”

On if her teammates rely on her for leadership:
“Oftentimes, yes. I love it because I know that I’m young. I have so many rookies on my team and they asked me questions all the time, and I like to be the one to answer because it helps me stay focused as well, because I’m still young. It’s like when you quiz your classmate before a test, it’s like they’re quizzing me and I have to answer correctly. So it’s helping us both at the same time.”

On the progression of the bench unit:
“We’ve progressed in multiple ways. For instance, in the beginning of this season Alaina Coates had a lack of confidence, and throughout this season she just continued to just believe in herself and it showed. One thing [Kaleah] Copper says every time we huddle before the game starts she just says ‘we win games when we contribute.’ We focused on being aggressive when we come out, making sure we’re not making the same mistakes the starters made and just making an impact immediately.”

On if she’s adding another offensive move to her arsenal:
“I don’t like to specify what I work on, I just try to do a little bit of everything so that I stay versatile. In the offseason I plan on getting in even better shape than I’m in now. So, we’ll see what comes.”

FEVER HEAD COACH POKEY CHATMAN
On preparing for the series against Chicago with playing the first game against each other and the last two games:
“It’s crazy because everyone’s so different from beginning to end, so you go from one extreme playing in the open season, and back-to-back to close it. I think it’s easy to prepare because you watch the video, make a few adjustments, get people recuperated, recovered. I think the big thing is you look at my 34-year-old vet [Candice Dupree] who played 47 minutes, she didn’t look 34 out there today. She had some juice with her. she’s a calming presence. Natalie Achonwa was ill most of the night with a migraine, throwing up, I didn’t think she would play. And then, she came to me and said no, I’m going to give it a go. And then Cappie Pondexter, she’s vintage Cappie in some moments. So, we had a few key vets leading the youth movement, so it was just nice to see so they could end the season with a win.”

On striking a balance with the team’s youth:
“Yeah, we have a lot of youth. They don’t know any better, so they don’t get too high or too low. They know they’re learning under the lights. This is a year that wasn’t good for rookies in terms of practice. Playing 34 games in 94 days you have to correct things under the lights and it would be easy for them to lose confidence, but they just kept coming back for more and more. And I credit them for that, you know some of these six wins I believe that the way they stayed connected to me and to each other is going to serve us beautifully in the WNBA season.”

On the future of the league:
“I think it is all over the league. And it’s the size, the speed, the athleticism, the way the game is changing, there are so many possessions per game people that can space the floor. Yeah, it’s been trending that way for the last couple of years.”

On her final message to the team looking forward:
“I told them we wanted to wake up winners tomorrow. That leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth and to take the good and some of the bad, the lumps but also the lessons that were learned “L’s” and take it home with them and take it abroad. And just bring the same mentality in wanting to learn and wanting to play for each other and play together that they had throughout the season despite the lack of success and we won in some areas. I have been apart of teams where we didn’t have a lot of wins you didn’t get that type of positive energy and I appreciate that.”

FEVER FORWARD CANDICE DUPREE
On two high scoring games back to back:
“I don’t even know. I mean the goal was to finish off the season with a win. And Normatech a lot last night, this morning and trying to make sure I was ready to play and get my rest and come out and still be aggressive.”

On teaching the rookies throughout the season:
“I think if anything, it was the basic principles of basketball. How to navigate this league. The pace is different, the intensity, the grind. I guess teaching them about who these players are in the league. They watch them on TV, but actually playing against them and know what their tendencies are and trying to limit those. I think they all did a great job.”

On looking forward to next season:
“I am excited to see how these young players develop after playing overseas for a season. I’m sure they’ll come back a lot better, being that we finished last in the league I’m sure we’ll get a decent draft pick again this year. So, we should have a pretty good group back next year.”

FEVER GUARD CAPPIE PONDEXTER
On traveling after double overtime loss on a back-to-back:

“It’s a normal WNBA life. The sad part is we don’t have anything to play for really, so it was just a matter of having a mentality to finish the season off with a win more than anything”

On igniting the comeback against the Sky with her shooting:
“I was just patient. My last few games, I really didn’t get my shots. I played limited minutes so I just wanted to finish the game not for anyone else but for myself and just play for The Lord which I typically try to do every single game”

On the both teams being young and the future of the WNBA:
“It’s bright. I mean you can see it, look at the standings all 14 teams they’re really close in terms of wins and losses. The only team that really separated themselves was Seattle with single digit losses. I think the league is growing there’s so much talent and a lot of skill.”