Sky fall to Fever’s hot hands, 81-72

The Chicago Sky hung tough in the final quarter of Wednesday’s matinee versus the Indiana Fever, but the loss of leading scorer Epiphanny Prince and the hot hands of the Fever were too much to overcome. The Sky fell, 81-72, dropping their third straight and to 7-4 overall.

Indiana nailed 11 of 19 shots from beyond the arc to win their third game in as many tries against the Sky, and clinched a potential tie-breaking scenario should the two finish with identical records before the playoffs begin in September.

In her third start this year, Sky guard Tamera Young fell just shy of her season-high in scoring 15 points to help offset the offensive production of Prince, who injured her left foot the last time these two teams met on June 16. In the meantime, Chicago welcomed backup point guard Ticha Penicheiro, who was acquired in February but injured her calf in the first game of the season and hadn’t played since. Penicheiro looked sharp within the flow of the Sky offense and finished with three assists in 15 minutes.

Sky center Sylvia Fowles continued her league-best 79-game streak of double-digit scoring, leading the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Chicago’s other Olympian, Swin Cash, turned in her best performance of the year with a season-high 17 points to go with five boards and three dimes.

The Sky had a golden opportunity to steal one from Indiana, which was playing the second of a back-to-back road series and was coming off a 12-point loss to Atlanta. But the Fever enjoyed a 12-0 run early in the third quarter to break open a slim 37-33 lead at the half.

Shavonte Zellous shook off a neck strain to lead the Fever with 18 points, including 3-of-3 from downtown. All-Star Tamika Catchings rebounded from an 8-point performance on Tuesday with 17 points and three treys of her own. Jeannette Pohlen came off the bench to hit four timely 3-pointers to stifle each Chicago run for a comeback. She finished with 14 points.

The Sky looked to take advantage of Indiana’s tired legs in the first quarter by outrebounding the Fever, 12-6, while Young scored nine points in the first 10 minutes. When Vandersloot knocked down a buzzer-beater from well beyond the half-court mark to pull ahead by one, it appeared it would be the Sky’s night. But Indiana pulled out a 12-2 run in the second quarter to take a four-point lead heading into the locker room.

Chicago continues on to the second of three games in five nights with a home game against Phoenix on Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Allstate Arena.