Rosemont Ill. – It took five periods to decide, but the Sky was able to surmount a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the Washington Mystics Friday, 86-84.
In spite of a poor first half performance in which they gave up four first-quarter treys, Chicago looked to regroup in the second half, and regroup they did. They opened up the third period on a 17-5 run, which allowed them to reclaim a lead by the five minute mark. They would go on to outscore the Mystics by ten for the remainder of regulation, forcing the extra frame.
“I felt their energy. I could hear five people talking the whole time,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of her team’s second half performance.
“If one person got beat, they trusted that a help defender would be there and it wasn’t a reaching foul. We were getting those loose balls. Normally when we’re going for the ball we don’t quite get it, and it was always surrounded by a number of jerseys. When it didn’t happen, I was surprised. They strung together a lot of good minutes of basketball.”
But the highlight of the night ultimately came down to the final 48 seconds of the contest. An errant pass by Mystics forward Tierra Ruffin-Pratt led to Elena Delle Donne running the length of the floor to lay it in, tying the game at 84. After a missed basket by Washington, Courtney Vandersloot sunk a pull up jumper, which give the Sky a two-point lead with 4.6 seconds remaining.
With the clock winding down, the Mystics had a good look, but Erika de Souza was able to block Stefanie Dolson’s shot, securing the victory for the Sky. When asked of De Souza’s performance, Chatman recounted an exchange that occurred a day prior.
“She wanted to speak with me. You know, you think about players that always want to talk about ‘Why am I not playing?’ ‘I need a shot,'” Chatman said. “She talked to me about ‘I need to do better for this team. I can’t play 15 minutes and have 3 rebounds’…That’s a true pro who understands everywhere she can help this team and affect it.”
“They have the presence of mind to talk about that and then go out and do it at a crucial time. And then you follow it up with a big block at the end after she had been sitting for a long time. I talked to the ladies in the locker room, and everyone who came in the game contributed something positive. And that’s what we need because our strength is in the number of people that can play well.”
The Sky were again led by Delle Donne, who notched 28 points and 11 rebounds in the comeback performance. Three other Sky scorers would record double digits. Courtney Vandersloot contributed with 14 while Tamera Young and Allie Quigley each netted 10.
The Sky will next visit the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday.