Things didn’t go too well the last time the Chicago Sky faced Washington in D.C. on July 24. Recently-minted All-Star rookie Elena Delle Donne went down with a concussion and the Mystics snapped the Sky’s five-game win streak, climbing out of a 21-point hole to win, 82-78.
With Washington in town for Friday night’s matchup, Chicago was looking for redemption ― and they got it.
The Sky rode Sylvia Fowles’ broad shoulders and her season-high 32-point, 15-rebound performance to an 85-78 victory to remain atop the Eastern Conference standings with a 13-5 record. Without Delle Donne’s team-leading 18-point scoring average and with only eight players active against the now 9-11 Mystics, Chicago had every excuse in the book for a letdown game. “[Delle Donne] brings a lot to the table and we just tried to pick up where she left off,” Fowles said. “We picked it up in the second half, I think, and my teammates stepped up when they needed to step up.”
Washington weathered the Sky’s hot start that saw Chicago ahead, 23-13, by the end of the third quarter. The Sky sank nine of their first 11 shots to open the game – a scorching 82 percent – and assisted on nine of their first 10 field goals, a sign of fluid execution on all cylinders.
Fowles scored on her first six attempts en route to 17 first-half points, including a near-dunk put-back that brought her ecstatic teammates – and the fans – out of their seats. But the Mystics outscored Chicago, 31-21, in the second period and battled back from a 14-point deficit with a 10-2 run. Washington guard Matee Ajavon’s half-court heave that banked in at the buzzer was waived, preserving a 44-all tie at the break.
Neither team could establish the upper hand for most of the third quarter until Epiphanny Prince nailed Chicago’s first 3-pointer in the team’s first five attempts to break a tie at 55. Perhaps the pivotal moment of the game came next: Washington held a 3-on-1 fast-break advantage with Chicago guard Courtney Vandersloot the only line of defense. Ajavon drove the lane on the right side and Vandersloot slid over, sacrificing her body and drawing the charge. Moments later, Fowles kissed a left-hander off the glass and the Sky would go on to complete a 10-0 run and never trail again. Though it was close: Washington pulled within one point midway through the fourth period on a jump shot from Ivory Latta. Fowles, who also had five blocks, took over from there by altering the game at both ends. The Olympian sank four free throws in the final 3:30 to build a five-point buffer as Chicago held on for its seventh straight home win. Defensively, Fowles held former Sky teammate Michelle Snow to two points in the final period. Snow finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
Friday’s victory extended Fowles’ and Chicago’s dominance over the Mystics, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups. In three games this season, Fowles has averaged 26.3 points and 13.7 rebounds against Washington.
Tamera Young continued her strong play at home with 13 points and Vandersloot contributed a solid nine points and matched her season high of nine assists. Epiphanny Prince scored nine and Swin Cash chipped in a well-rounded line of 10 points, five boards and four assists.
Ajavon led the Mystics with 19 points and five assists while Monique Currie added 13.
Up next for Chicago is a home-and-home series with the Indiana Fever. Chicago travels to Indianapolis Saturday and then returns home to host the Fever on Tuesday.