Delle Donne, Sky get revenge against Stars

Returning to sweet home Chicago, the Sky exacted revenge against the San Antonio Silver Stars in the form of Sunday’s 72-70 win at Allstate Arena. With 1.8 seconds remaining, Chicago’s heralded rookie Elena Delle Donne scored a game-high 23 points and calmly drilled two free throws to ice the game. Former Sky guard Jia Perkins’ last-gasp 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer.

The Sky (4-1) redeemed themselves of Friday’s 12-point loss at San Antonio in the first half of a home-and-home series and moved into a tie with Atlanta atop the Eastern Conference standings, thanks to the Dream’s loss at New York.

Delle Donne’s impeccable form at the charity stripe has contributed to her 92 percent success rate, which ranks No. 2 in the league for players who’ve attempted more than 20 free throws. The last two for the win were undoubtedly her sweetest.

“That was practiced many times growing up and my teammates gave me the confidence to make them,” Delle Donne said. “It was a huge win, especially to protect the home court. Obviously, they’re not all going to be pretty, but a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”

Chicago withstood a relentless rally by the Stars, who chipped away at a 15-point Sky lead and tied the game at 70 on Perkins’ 3-pointer. Perkins led the Stars with 20 points.

Delle Donne shrugged off a 5-for-15 performance on Friday and began Sunday’s game sinking her first five shots. The Sky held a tenuous 23-22 lead at the end of the first quarter, but once Sky coach Pokey Chatman re-inserted her star small forward, Delle Donne promptly scored seven straight points to cap a 9-0 run.

Delle Donne said she felt the need to help offset the absence of star shooting guard Epiphanny Prince, who is fulfilling a contractual obligation with the Russian National Team.

“I’m definitely trying to be a little more aggressive, get some double-teams, and get other people open,” said Delle Donne, who had 15 points by the first half.

After giving up 81 points to the Stars on Friday, the Sky cranked up the defensive intensity with 12 blocks and a number of hard fouls to make the Stars think twice about coming into the paint. The Stars scored 70 points, but needed 86 shots to do so on 31 percent shooting. Chicago held Stars guard Danielle Robinson to just five points on 2-of-10 shooting after the blonde-mohawked speedster dropped 18 points in Friday’s matchup.

Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who had just nine points in Friday’s game, bounced back with a dominant double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds.

“We watched film [of Friday’s game],” Delle Donne said. “Sylvia didn’t get enough touches in the last game; we were looking to get her active.”

Fowles picked up her third foul early in the third quarter, but Chatman gambled and kept her All-Star center in the game. Fowles rewarded her coach with seven more points in the quarter and provided solid control of the paint.

Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot contributed 12 points and five assists while forward Swin Cash, who became the 13th player in the league to reach 21,000 career minutes, delivered a well-rounded seven points, six boards and three assists.

Chicago native Allie Quigley led the bench with six points, four rebounds and two assists in back-up point guard duties.

The Sky will take the week off before next Sunday’s clash with fellow Eastern Conference leader Atlanta at 2 p.m.