Shock Fouled Up
Sure, Sky center Sylvia Fowles had nice numbers (10 points and 12 rebounds) but the 19 personal fouls called on Detroit's four frontcourt players loomed larger. Detroit starters Kara Braxton and Taj McWilliams-Franklin combined for more fouls (nine) than field goals (eight).
"It's not frustrating when you have an opportunity to win, it's frustrating when you get to a point when you can't do anything because of your foul trouble," said McWilliams-Franklin, who managed to collect 11 points and 11 rebounds despite five fouls, three before halftime.
Speaking of which, the Shock had a winning opportunity, too: an inbounds pass at midcourt with 3.3 seconds left in overtime after a turnover by Sky guard Jia Perkins. But the play went awry, and Katie Smith's wild 24-footer sailed wide of the basket.
"We kind of got what we wanted but it wasn't supposed to come to me," said Smith, who became the third player in WNBA history to score 5,000 points with her first field goal Sunday, "so we had a miscommunication."
Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer was more pointed, saying rookie guard Alexis Hornbuckle, who inbounded the ball, "panicked and threw it to the wrong person."
It was that kind of night for the Shock, who fell behind 8-0 out of the gate. The Sky built an 11-point lead behind nine points from Candice Dupree in the first quarter. They were still ahead, 29-20, when Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan turned things around for Detroit.
The Shock's leading scorers poured in 21 of Detroit's last 23 points in the half. Smith scored 17 of her 23 points in the second quarter and gave Detroit its first lead, 38-37, on a 3-pointer. Nolan, who finished with 18 points, was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half, helping Detroit take a 45-38 halftime lead.
"Yeah, we didn't start the game off well, but even when we battled back, got a lead at half, we gave it away at the beginning of the second half," Smith said. "We played hard. If we could just play a little smarter throughout the game whether offensively or defensively with little things along the way, probably could have come out with a victory."
The Shock committed seven of their 17 turnovers in the third quarter and the Sky reclaimed the lead behind another nine-point quarter from Dupree, who finished with a game-high 24 points. She scored four of Chicago's five points in overtime.
Trailing by seven midway through the fourth, the Shock finally had some success in the paint when Braxton and McWilliams-Franklin each scored twice for an 8-0 run that gave Detroit the lead, 73-72. The duo could not sustain that success, however, combining to shoot 32 percent from the floor (8-of-25). In overtime, McWilliams-Franklin twice missed follow-ups of Braxton misses.
Chicago missed its share of easy opportunities, too. Despite a 40-20 advantage in free throw attempts, the Sky - the league's second-worst free-throw shooting team - converted just 25. The Shock capitalized by making the most of less, shooting 16-of-20 at the line (80 percent).
Many of Chicago's free throws were the result of whistles against Detroit's bigs. Olayinka Sanni, Kelly Schumacher and McWilliams-Franklin each finished with five fouls while Braxton had four. McWilliams-Franklin said it's a matter of defenders getting to the correct spot.
"We have to do a better job. This is the second game in a row we've been in foul trouble along the front line," she said. "We've got to buckle down. We need to be in position to help correctly or be in position to guard our man, one or the other. We can't be halfway because they're calling the foul on us, and it's to our disadvantage."
Postseason Picture: The Shock (17-12) now trail the Sun by 2.0 games for first place in the Eastern Conference. Prior to Detroit's defeat Sunday, the Sun (19-10) prevailed over the visiting Seattle Storm at Mohegan Sun Arena. Connecticut has a league-best six-game winning streak.
AfterShocks: Shock forward Plenette Pierson has served her entire four-game suspension for the July 22 skirmish with Candace Parker and will be back in action Sept. 5 against the Indiana Fever at The Palace.
Smith joins Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson in the WNBA's 5,000-point club.