CHICAGO – There are a few things that were a little different on the final day of May than they were in the middle of October of 2021 when these teams last met at Wintrust Arena.

For one, the stakes were a bit lower since Sky and Mercury played last fall for a WNBA championship, but there are other things that are different as well that might not be common in a given year.

For one, Diamond DeShields is now on the Phoenix team after being dealt to Phoenix following the 2021 season as part of a three-team “Sign-and-Trade.” The 2019 WNBA All-Star was able to receive her WNBA championship ring in a ceremony before she played her old team on Tuesday night.

Of course, there was the absence of Mercury star Brittney Griner, a fact that hung over the heads of many players who were taking part in the game just as it has for the entire season.

The seven-time All-Star has been detained in Russia since February 17th when she was arrested for possessing vape cartridges that allegedly had oil derived from cannabis.

Griner’s initials and number remain on the floor at Wintrust Arena and every other arena in the NBA as the season starts and will remain there till she returns. In a further show of solidarity, the Sky collected donations for Griner’s “Heart and Sole Shoe Drive” during the game.

“It really just didn’t feel right out there without her because we’ve battled with this team many years since ‘BG’ has been in there,” said Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot of not facing Griner with the Mercury on Tuesday. “Obviously she’s a huge focal point. She’s an All-Star, she’s an Olympian in this league. It didn’t feel right playing without her.

“We have to keep it top of mind. We need the people that make decisions to bring her home, because it’s just been over 100 days, and we can’t continue this. She can’t continue to be over there for her family, for herself, for this league. We need the people to step up and bring her home.”

The game did go on with things much different than they were seven months ago but one thing remained the same: The Sky came out on top.

After taking a ten-point lead after the first quarter, the Mercury were in control the next two quarters and took an eight-point lead into the fourth. But the Sky had their best for last, outscoring Phoenix 22-11 in the final ten minutes for a 73-70 victory.

Vandersloot led that comeback effort by scoring 12 of her team-high 18 points in the final quarter, putting the Sky ahead for good with a hoop with 2:28 to go in the game. Up by three in the final seconds, DeShields had the chance to tie the game when she got off a shot from the corner, but it was off the mark, giving the Sky a victory.

The win improves the team to 5-3 on the year on a night that featured a similar result as last fall with a few different circumstances.