Chicago routs Liberty, forces Game 3 in Brooklyn

CHICAGO (AP) — Kahleah Copper scored 20 points and Courtney Vandersloot added 16 to help Chicago to a record rout of New York 100-62, tying the first-round WNBA playoffs series on Saturday and forcing a decisive Game 3.

The teams will play on Tuesday in New York with a trip to the WNBA semifinals at stake.

Candace Parker added 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists for the Sky, who broke their own WNBA record for the largest margin of victory in the playoffs. Chicago won by 36 at home in Game 3 of the Finals against the Phoenix Mercury last year.

The defending champion Sky took it right at New York after losing Game 1 at home 98-91 on Wednesday night when the Liberty went on a 13-0 run to end the game.

“We knew we had to do something different than we’ve been doing all regular season,” said Vandersloot, who shot 7 of 10 from the field and grabbed nine rebounds on Saturday. “That was our fault, we came out and played a regular-season game. You credit New York, they came out and beat us on our home floor. We knew that wasn’t going to happen again.”

Copper reportedly suffered an ankle injury toward the end of practice Friday and had to be helped off the court. Chicago coach James Wade said the 2021 WNBA Finals MVP would be fine. Turns out, he was right.

Cooper opened the scoring with a 3-pointer and then drove hard to the basket. She was also disruptive on defense, forcing New York into turnovers. The Liberty only had eight miscues in the first game. But they matched that total by the end of the first quarter, with Chicago ahead 31-10, behind Cooper's 10 points. She finished 8 of 16 from the field.

Chicago extended the advantage in the second quarter to 31, playing relentless defense and cruising to a 52-28 halftime lead. New York could get no closer in the second half as the Sky kept it going offensively and defensively.

Han Xu and Michaela Onyenwere each scored 10 points to lead New York. Sabrina Ionescu shot 3 of 5 for seven points and added three assists. Natasha Howard finished 3 of 9 for eight points. In Wednesday's win, Ionescu and Howard both scored 22 points.

The Liberty finished 3 of 20 from three-point range.