Sky Fans Get Loud as Chicago Comes Back to Beat Washington
In front of a boisterous crowd at New Trier High School in Winnetka, the Chicago Sky hit six free throws in the final minute of Thursday’s preseason opener, defeating the Washington Mystics, 73-68.
Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who put up some of her best numbers in four wins against the Mystics last season, scored nine points and pulled down 12 rebounds to continue the Sky’s dominance over Washington. Though this contest won’t count in the record books, Chicago is riding a six-game win streak against the Mystics dating back to June of 2010.
Swin Cash, Chicago’s prized acquisition from the Seattle Storm on Jan. 2nd, fit in well with Pokey Chatman’s tough-minded schemes and finished with seven points by aggressively down low, grabbing five rebounds and injecting plenty of defensive intensity.
Epiphanny Prince led all scorers with 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc to help Chicago overcome an otherwise rough night shooting. Prince’s nailed two treys out of the gates in the third quarter to establish momentum and overtake the Mystics’ 29-28 halftime lead.
Sky fans were treated to glimpses of a tantalizing, front court trio of Fowles, Cash and free agent pickup Ruth Riley, who contributed a solid outing of six points and four assists. The center hit a critical jumper with 54 seconds remaining to put the Sky on top, 67-66.
Courtney Vandersloot, last year’s rookie phenom, picked up where she left off as the team’s floor general, dishing off seven assists and protecting the ball with zero turnovers. Even more reassuring for Chatman is the new addition of backup point guard Ticha Penicheiro. The veteran playmaker entering her 15th season entered early in the first quarter for Vandersloot and recorded her first assist in a Sky uniform less than five seconds later – a pass to Riley for a jumper on the left wing.
The Sky displayed clutch instincts down the stretch as Felicia Chester-Wooten picked the pockets of Crystal Langhorne and then sank two late free throws. Shay Murphy came through with a clutch free throw to add to her total of 10 points for the night while Vandersloot capped the Sky’s final three points with three straight freebies.
Washington proved a viable threat in the paint to counter the Sky’s more talented bigs as Langhorne contributed 10 points and seven boards. Ashley Robinson added eight points and five rebounds. Both players swatted two shots apiece.
Monique Currie showed no signs of last year’s torn ACL as she led Washington with 12 points.