Courtside Blog - June 30 vs. Monarchs
Just by looking at the numbers, you’d have to consider Chicago the favorite in tonight’s game. Chicago is in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-3 record, Sacramento is in last place in the west with a 1-7 record. At home, the Sky is undefeated, while the Monarchs have yet to win on the road.
What do I want to see tonight? I would like to see the Sky back up those numbers. This seems like the kind of game that the Sky could get out to an early lead and keep it for the entire contest. That’s the kind of game you’d expect when a 2nd place team take on a last place team. Let’s see what happens—it’s game time!
Midway through the first quarter, Jia Perkins split two Monarch defenders, drove into a very crowded lane then kicked it out to the corner where Brooke Wyckoff was standing all alone—and she drains it! That’s the second three-pointer of the quarter for Wyckoff. Sacramento takes a timeout, it’s 12-5 Sky with 4:16 to go.
The Sky led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, but a brief run by the Monarchs cut the lead down to four, it’s a 20-16 game after one. After an ugly game on Saturday, the Sky’s offense has looked much better tonight, shooting 9-for-19 from the floor (47 percent), including a perfect 2-for-2 on three-pointers—both by Wyckoff.
Armintie Price is everywhere! She’s only been on the court for about 90 seconds, and she’s already pulled down three rebounds—two of them on offense! Unfortunately, her effort hasn’t been able to spark the Sky, who are off to a slow start this quarter and now trail, 21-20, with 7:44 to go.
Chelsea Newton was getting a bit lazy while trying to defend Dominique Canty, and Sacramento head coach Jenny Boucek had a strong message for her: she yelled, “Chelsea, get down and play defense and stop reaching in from behind!” 2:35 to go in the 2nd, 29-28, Monarchs now leading.
After a third bad pass leading to a turnover by his offense, Sky Head Coach Steven Key shook his head in disgust and sat down on the scorers’ table, obviously frustrated by his team’s performance in the last few minutes.
Meanwhile on Sacramento’s bench, there’s a lot of high-fiving and encouragement from an intense coach Boucek. She has to be impressed by her team as they take a 37-32 lead into the half.
I watched Coach Key as he walked off the court at halftime, he is not very happy. Key is usually a soft-spoken guy, but that may not be the case once the locker room doors are closed.
Official timeout on the floor, 4:20 to go in the 3rd, it’s 46-42 Sacramento. In the last two possessions, two bad passes have ended the Sky’s attempts to get points. The first one came when Perkins tried to lob one down low to Fowles. The pass was too short and Sacramento picked it off. Then, Erin Thorn fired a pass that went right between Fowles and Wyckoff, neither one sure who the pass was intended for. Thorn and Perkins aren’t the only two culprits either—bad passes by the Sky have been happening way too often tonight. They’ve got to get those under control if they want to maintain their undefeated record at home.
Can you say momentum swing?! A great passing play by the Sky, where all 5 players touched the ball, resulted in an easy layup for Fowles. On the ensuing possession, Jia made a great steal, took off down the court for a layup, made it and drew the foul! She completes the 3-point play, the Sky lead 49-46 now, with 2:30 to go in the 3rd.
Late in the third, Thorn appears to make a clean steal off Sacramento forward Laura Harper, but the referees disagree. First, Thorn looked up in disbelief and asked, “How?” As Harper took her free throws, Thorn walked over to the official and said, “That was all ball.” The ref just shook his head.
Checking the box score, rookie Kristi Toliver has not been on the court at all tonight. I saw her on the floor during warm-ups and she is in uniform, but Coach Key has not used her yet. I learned after the game that she was not feeling well which explains why Coach did not use her tonight.
I’m not sure what Sacramento forward DeMya Walker is saying, but every time she gets matched up with Fowles, she’s yelling something at her while putting a hand in Sylvia’s face. That has to be one of the most annoying defensive tactics I’ve ever seen. Down to 5:57 in the ballgame now, it’s 62-60 in favor of Sacramento.
Time is starting to run out on the Sky. They trail by 5 with 2:41 to go … but you can cut that down to three after Candice sinks two free throws to make it a 67-64 game. Now we need a defensive stop!
And we get one! Harper gets called for a moving pick, her fourth foul of the game. Then, Candice simply dominates a possession. First, she took in a pass while spinning 180 degrees in the air to block her defenders from the ball. Then she grabbed an offensive rebound, dished it to Wyckoff, who gave it right back to Dupree, and she nailed the two to make it a one point game.
Now a steal by Canty … pass to Jia … and the Sky take the lead!! It’s 68-67 now, with 1:28 left. The crowd is going crazy and the roof is about to blow off this place!
Another defensive stop, and then it’s Perkins AGAIN! She nails a 3-pointer (just like she did to close out the game on Saturday) with about 50 seconds left, and that’s going to finish this ballgame! Jia adds a free throw down the stretch to give her a team-high 17 points for the ballgame. If the Sky ever needs a clutch basket later on this season, I think the ball has to go to #11. She’s proven that she thrives in those pressure situations.
It’s a 74-72 victory for the Sky, their fifth in a row at home! The Sky is now 6-3 on the year, moving them to just half a game behind the conference-leading Indiana Fever!
The Sky will be on the road for three games against San Antonio, Sacramento, and Phoenix, before they return home on July 10 to square off against the Fever.
Be sure to tune into WNBA LiveAccess to catch the road games, and call 866.SKY.WNBA to get your tickets for the Sky’s upcoming home games!
We’ll see you at the UIC Pavilion. Go Sky!