Washington provides favorable matchup for Sky in D.C.
The Sky head to the nation’s capital, Sunday, to begin an arduous road campaign in which Chicago plays 10 of the next 14 games away from the comforts of home. After a month-long hiatus for the Olympics, the Sky tipped off the second half of the season with a tough loss at home against Atlanta. They’ll now face a struggling Washington team that’s playing its third game in four nights. The Mystics sputtered to a 4-14 start in the first half of the season, including two losses at the hands of Chicago. The Mystics also lost nine of 11 heading into the break and haven’t won two in a row in almost two years. Now they’ve lost the first two since the break.
Fortunately for the Sky, the road seems to make little difference since the team is 4-3 outside of Chicago. The Sky defeated Washington in D.C., 69-57, on May 19 and again, 65-63, on June 1 at home. Sky forward Sylvia Fowles seems to save her best for size-deficient Washington, putting up monster numbers in points and rebounds toward an eight-game win streak against the Mystics that dates back to June 2010. Fowles put up performances of 23 points and 12 rebounds and 19 points and 16 boards against Washington this year. Epiphanny Prince scored 31 points in the second contest, including 13 in the final 1:44 to help Chicago rally from eight points down.
Fowles, who is coming off a busy summer representing the U.S. at the London Olympics, showed a little rust but still managed 13 points and six rebounds against Atlanta on Friday. Olympian teammate Swin Cash contributed nine points and four rebounds. While Fowles and Cash may have brought home the gold for Team USA, most eyes were on Epiphanny Prince who returned after missing eight games with a broken foot. She led the Sky in scoring with 16 points and showed she still has her quick feet with solid defense and three steals.
In the earlier matchups with the Mystics, Washington’s Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie were the only players to score in double digits against Chicago. Langhorne averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds while Currie scored an average of 14.5 points in the two matches. Chicago’s defense forced Washington into an average of 19 turnovers while holding the Mystics to well below their league-low average of 70 points per game. Chicago’s backcourt will need to key in on Washington guard Matee Ajavon, who’s shown she can go off for 20 points or dish assists in bunches. A pair of Sky players from last season, Michelle Snow and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, are averaging 7.3 and 2.6 points, respectively.
Following the visit to Washington, Chicago returns home to host New York before taking off on a road trip that features three games in five nights. The Sky will see familiar foe Atlanta, whom they played on Friday, Tulsa and Connecticut. The upcoming schedule might prove to be one of the toughest in the league, but if Chicago has any hopes to clinch its first playoff berth in franchise history, they’ll need to develop the mettle required for postseason success and winning on the road presents an opportune starting point.