Sky outshine Sun in comeback

After a thrilling, fourth-quarter comeback in Seattle just three days prior to Sunday’s matchup against Connecticut, the Chicago Sky topped it with an even better encore performance.

Trailing by 25 points with less than two minutes in the first half, Chicago outscored the Sun, 62-35, after the break to win, 89-78, in convincing fashion. The win completed the largest comeback in Sky franchise history, topping last their 22-point comeback at Atlanta in June of 2012.

Sky coach Pokey Chatman must’ve delivered some halftime pep talk.

“It was unacceptable,” Chatman said of the first half effort. “Forty-three points in a half makes it really difficult [to fight back].”

But they did fight. After coming out of the gates to miss their first nine shots of the game, Chicago slowly chipped away throughout and finally overtook Connecticut with less than three minutes in the game. All-Star Sky guard Epiphanny Prince was the catalyst, swiping a steal and racing down the other end for a layup and-one. On the next possession, she intercepted another Sun pass and fed Sky forward Shay Murphy for another layup and-one. For the third consecutive play, Prince powered into the lane from the right elbow and tossed it off the backboard for another and-one. Her subsequent free throw gave Chicago the lead, 75-73, and the Sky never looked back, closing the game on a 25-5 run.

“At halftime, Coach told us she wanted us to come out with a magnificent comeback and we gave it to her,” Prince said. “We read the defense better and attacked a little more.”

Prince led the Sky (17-8) with 21 points and eight assists, while Murphy scored a season-high 15 points in a spark plug role off the bench.

The Sky came into Sunday’s game without the team’s leading scorer, Elena Delle Donne, and her 18.2 points per game. Delle Donne suffered sprained left foot during Tuesday’s game at Los Angeles and her status remains uncertain as to her return. But even without their All-Star rookie, the Sky proved they still had plenty of firepower in Thursday’s win over Seattle, where Epiphanny Prince scored 12 of her 16 points in the final period to help the Sky outscore the Storm, 32-6, and overcome a 16-point deficit.

Chicago capitalized on Connecticut’s absences of starting point guard Kara Lawson (13.8 points and 4.2 assists per game) and guard Allison Hightower (12.8 points per game).

In what has become the premier showdown between the top two centers in the league, the Sky’s Sylvia Fowles got the better of her Olympian teammate and Sun center, Tina Charles. Fowles, who leads the league with an 11.3 rebounding average, recorded her second 20-20 game of the season, a 20-point, 21-rebound double-double that was one rebound shy of her career-high. Charles, who is second in rebounds (10.5 per game), continued her struggles against the Sky scoring just 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Fowles recorded her other 20-20 game against Connecticut on May 31, with 24 points and 22 rebounds.

The Sky and Sun squared off for the fourth and final time this season, with Chicago sweeping the series for the first time in franchise history. Prince scored 23 points in the team’s duel on Aug. 9, as Chicago won that one, 77-61. Thanks to the rim-protecting presence of Fowles, Charles was held to a season-low five points in Connecticut.

Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot turned in one of her better games of the season, battling through a brutal first quarter in which she took several shots to the face, including one that drew blood and forced a timeout by the officials. Vandersloot sat out early in the game to recover for a moment, then returned to score 17 points and dish out six assists. Her relentless drives resembled the Sky’s never-say-die spirit.

“We never think that we’re out of this game,” Vandersloot said at halftime, perhaps prophetically. “We’re going to keep fighting because that’s the team that we are.”

Tan White led Connecticut (7-17) with 16 points and Renee Montgomery added 13.

Chicago visits Washington (12-14) on Tuesday.