Injured Pierson sits out 17-point loss

Shock Blown Sky High

If you had to name Bill Laimbeer’s three keys to victory, they’d be defense, rebounding and Deanna Nolan. All three were woefully deficient in the Detroit Shock’s 76-59 loss at Chicago Saturday night.

Defense? The Sky shot 50 percent (14-of-28 FGs) in the first half to build a 44-31 halftime lead.

Rebounding? The Sky outrebounded Detroit in the first quarter, 12-2, and had three players with seven or more rebounds. The Shock had one, Cheryl Ford. The All-Star forward had eight rebounds but did not score from the floor, netting two free throws.

Nolan? The All-Star guard missed 12 of her first 13 shots, finishing with four points. Even when a Sky technical foul put her at the line in the fourth quarter, Nolan – a 97.1-percent free-throw shooter – missed the freebie.

By any measure, it was not even close to the Shock’s night, and their frustration was evident throughout. Detroit had more personal fouls (14) than field goals (9) in the first half, and Katie Smith was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Detroit has survived slow starts on the road before, but not with two regulars – Elaine Powell and Plenette Pierson – sidelined with injuries. The Shock’s shortened rotation could not kick-start anything in the third quarter. They scored13 points, never drawing closer than 10 points.

With Ford in foul trouble – she had four by halftime – and Pierson sitting out after suffering a right knee strain in Thursday’s win over Connecticut, Laimbeer had to rely on Kara Braxton in the post. She delivered nearly as many turnovers (seven) as points (nine).

With Detroit unable to sustain a run, the Sky put the game away on Quianna Chaney’s triple early in the fourth quarter. Smith picked up a pair of technical fouls shortly thereafter, ending her night with seven points on 2-of-5 shooting. Two Sky free throws made it 62-44, and the Detroit deficit eventually hit 20.

All-Star forward Candice Dupree had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Sky, which enjoyed the first home win against Detroit in franchise history.

The Sky backcourt put Detroit on its heels early. Dominique Canty scored eight of Chicago’s first 10 points, making 4 of 5 shots. The former Shock guard – she played in Detroit from 1999-02 – finished with 14 points and four assists. Shooting guard Jia Perkins also scored 14, all in the first half.

Newcomer Shay Murphy, in only her third game with Detroit, scored a team-high 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including two 3-pointers. After playing 15 minutes in Thursday’s win, Murphy played 24 minutes Saturday. Acquired for LaToya Thomas last week, Murphy has given Laimbeer another perimeter player to fill the void left by Elaine Powell, who has been sidelined since suffering a foot injury June 11.

The loss drops the Shock (11-5) one game behind the Connecticut Sun, whom Detroit defeated Thursday to regain a share of the conference lead. Both teams play Sunday, with Detroit hosting 0-14 Atlanta.