Is Allie Quigley the favorite against Zach LaVine in HORSE?

ByGraham Hays and Mechelle Voepel ESPN logo
Friday, April 17, 2020

Allie Quigley gave us something that was in decidedly short supply over the past month of social distancing and canceled games because of the coronavirus. The Chicago Sky guard served up the simple thrill of an upset.

At least that's how it appeared to many when the WNBA veteran beat NBA counterpart and 10-time All-Star Chris Paul in the opening round of a HORSE competition featuring eight men's and women's players of the past and present competing via video from their respective homes.

But in the language we're most accustomed to this time of year, fans of women's basketball can attest this wasn't Loyola beating Virginia or Harvard beating Stanford. Quigley was far from the equivalent of a No. 16 seed.

In the end, with her semifinal opponent admitting he wisely wanted to avoid an all-out shooting contest, Quigley couldn't match aerial trick shots from Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls. But if you're still curious about the sharpest shooter in WNBA history, here's a look at Quigley's story.

She got used to being the underdog in college

You think it's difficult trading trick shots with Chris Paul? Try playing 40 minutes against UConn a few times every season. Quigley has gone toe-to-toe with giants since she was a teenager.

While DePaul ruled Big East women's basketball the past few seasons, it was a different story back in Quigley's days at the Chicago school. Her first season with the Blue Demons was the program's final season in Conference USA (she was the league's freshman of the year). The Big East that the Blue Demons entered the next season was still UConn's empire, with C. Vivian Stringer's Rutgers also entering a golden era and Muffet McGraw's Notre Dame always tough.

That Big East was as big as women's college basketball got -- as if to make sure the newcomer understood its surroundings, UConn ended DePaul's 33-game home winning streak in their first meeting as conference opponents in 2006. But Quigley reached double digits in that game, as she did in most games. Despite playing the hardest schedules in program history, Quigley remains third in DePaul history with 2,078 career points. Of the four players there who reached 2,000 points, she's the only one who played the majority of her career in the Big East.

She never did beat UConn, but she came closer than most. In her final home game in 2008, in front of a sellout crowd and playing a Huskies team ranked No. 1, Quigley scored a game-high 27 points. The last of those points came on a jumper that gave DePaul the lead with less than a minute to play. But freshman Maya Moore's miraculous steal with seven seconds to play set up a last-second winner. The Huskies escaped. But there was no doubt even then that Quigley could hold her own against anyone. -- Hays

She never gave up

Quigley is a popular player in the WNBA, in part because fans know how hard she worked to earn her spot in the league. She was drafted in the second round in 2008 by the Seattle Storm, and her pro odyssey began.

She was cut by the Storm before her rookie season even started, but then was picked up by the Phoenix Mercury, for whom she played 14 games in 2008 and six games in 2009. She split the 2010 season between the Indiana Fever and San Antonio Stars, playing a combined seven games. Back in Seattle in 2011, she played another seven games. In 2012, she didn't play in the WNBA at all. At that point, she was 26, had scored a grand total of 63 points as a reserve in the WNBA, and had to think her time in the league was over.

But she had also played throughout Europe during that time, and she headed back there in the fall of 2012. Then, in 2013, the Chicago Sky called. For Quigley, who's from Joliet, Illinois, and played at DePaul, it was the perfect fit geographically. And finally, the Sky were also the right fit as a team. Quigley had made herself a better player overseas, and in Chicago she was able to prove that in the WNBA.

She helped the Sky reach the WNBA Finals in 2014, and was named the league's Sixth Woman of the Year in 2014 and '15. She remained a valuable reserve in 2016, and the past three seasons, she has been a starter and was voted to the All-Star team. She has averaged in double figures for five of the past six years, including a career-high 16.4 PPG in 2017.

Her career is one of the best stories of perseverance in WNBA history. -- Voepel

She is one of the league's best sharpshooters

Quigley has shot better than 40% from 3-point range the last three seasons, including 44.2 percent in 2019.

One of her signature shooting displays was at the 2018 All-Star Game in Minneapolis, when she won the 3-point contest for the second year in a row. Quigley wowed her fellow All-Stars and the Target Center crowd by scoring 29 points (out of maximum of 39), which included hitting all of her money-ball shots. -- Voepel

She's half of a very successful WNBA partnership

Not everyone can work with their spouse, but Quigley and Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot have excelled at that. They've spent seven seasons together in the Sky's backcourt, dating for much of that time. They've been married since December 2018. They're known as the VanderQuigs by WNBA fans. Vandersloot is also Quigley's HORSE camerawoman.

Vandersloot played at Gonzaga for Kelly Graves, now the coach at Oregon. She was the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft by the Sky, and is one of women's basketball's top point guards. She led the WNBA in assists per game four times, including the last three years in a row. In 2019, she had her career-best assist average at 9.09 per game.-- Voepel

She is Sam Quigley's sister

At least Quigley has the element of surprise against LaVine. There are at least a couple of people whose shooting stroke and insider knowledge would make them more ruthless foes.

One of those, of course, is Vandersloot. But another is the only Quigley to earn WBCA All-America recognition. Known for much of her basketball life as "Little Quigley," Samantha is Allie's younger and, yes, slightly smaller sister.

And while perhaps not as well known as the likes of Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, who once earned All-America honors the same season at Stanford, there aren't many examples of sisters who both received some sort of national recognition. In this case, Sam earned a WBCA All-America honorable mention as a senior for DePaul in 2011, while Allie received the same distinction from The Associated Press in each of her final two seasons in 2007 and 2008.

The Quigley sisters were often teammates -- whether in driveway games of two-on-two against their brothers or for Joliet Catholic Academy and later DePaul. Allie the willowy scorer and Sam the compact point guard, they represented different parts of the family basketball legacy -- both their mother Christine and late father, Pat, played collegiately at St. Francis, as did their stepfather, Don Strle. (Pat died of cancer when both girls were in grade school).

"I always felt like I could throw her any pass and she would catch any pass," Sam once said. "It's nice to have someone on the court like that, especially when you're a point guard."

And while Allie continues to excel in pro basketball (and HORSE), Sam recently completed her third season as head coach at Division II Lewis University in Illinois -- where she coaches on Pat Quigley Court, named in honor of the sisters' late dad who coached tennis at the school. She is 70-25 in three seasons. -- Hays

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