NEW YORK – Once again, the team had the right stuff in the clutch, which has been the case for most of the last few weeks.

Down by one with the seconds ticking down against the Liberty Sunday in Brooklyn, the Sky were able to swing the ball around to get Courtney Vandersloot with a good look at a three-pointer. The three-time All-Star would knock down the triple with just under a second to go to give reigning WNBA champions an 88-86 victory.

“That’s something we emphasize not even just late game situations. We’re making the right passes, we’re making the right play,” said Vandersloot when asked about the sequence that led to the game-winning hoop. “That’s our identity,”

Once again, they’ve continued to show that so far in 2022 as they’ve picked up right where they left off last fall when they captured their first WNBA championship.

They’ve won five of their last six games, which included an 83-79 win over the Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday in a rematch of the WNBA semifinals from October. The stretch has allowed James Wade’s team to pull within a half-game of Connecticut for second in the league standings with the Aces two games ahead in first place.

All of this comes as teams get a little more fired up to play the reigning league champion, hoping to show what they’ve got in the quest to take that away in 2022. That’s a new experience for a few players, like Vandersloot, yet success has continued on so far.

“I feel like we do get people’s best shot. I don’t know if it’s because we are champs. I can speak from personal experience that you do get a little motivated when you’re playing the defending champs,” said Vandersloot. “Obviously this is a new year, everybody’s kinda fighting for the same thing. Everybody’s ultimate goal is be the champs of this season.

“In the WNBA, it doesn’t matter where you are in the rankings, every team is good and is capable of beating every team. So every single night is a battle and we felt that early.”

But so far they’ve been more than up for the challenge as first-time champs.