Sky Comes Up Short To Shock

The Detroit Shock (22-6) defeated the Sky, 66-60, in a very physical, hard-fought battle that was not decided until the closing seconds of the ball game. It’s the second consecutive loss for the Sky, but the team is still holding on to the fourth and final Eastern Conference play-off spot, tied with Washington, by virtue of their win tonight over New York, which is a half-game back.

Detroit came out of the gate on fire as they shot 66.7% from the field in the first quarter and jumped out to an early 20-16 lead. Swin Cash made 4 of her 5 first-quarter shots, scoring 8 points in the frame. She finished with 14 on the night.

The Sky kept the score close in the first half, never trailing by more than 7, even though they shot 28% in the first half, including 4-of-20 shooting in the second quarter. Plenette Pierson scored 7 of her team-high 15 points in the second quarter for the Shock.

Trailing by 5 at halftime, the Sky stormed back in the third quarter, led by Stacey Dales’ 7 points. With 1:37 left in the third, Jia Perkins drove hard to the basket and converted on her lay-in as she was knocked to the floor. She made good on her free throw attempt, tying the game at 46-46. She put the Sky in the lead, 47-46, with two free throws.

In the matchup of the top two candidates for the 2007 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, Perkins and Pierson, Perkins had the upper hand, with a game-high 19 points, team-high 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Pierson had a team-high 15 points, 6 rebounds, and no assists or steals. Both players were the leading scorers for their respective teams tonight; it is the seventh time in the last 10 games Perkins has led the Sky in scoring.

"When we can get Jia free, she's going to make plays,” said Sky Head Coach Bo Overton. “Not only making open shots, but getting to the free throw line. She really played well tonight. She's had a great month."

Brooke Wyckoff hit a three to give the Sky the lead early in the fourth quarter, 51-49. Rookie Armintie Price put the Sky up 53-49 after she hit a 14’ turnaround jump shot; she finished with 9 points, 3 assist, 2 steals, but only 1 rebound, well below her 6.6 season average.

The Shock shot right back at the Sky, going on an 8-0 run over the next 1:59 to seize control of the ball game. 6’8” center Katie Feenstra started the run, scoring two straight baskets to tie the game back up. Deanna Nolan finished the run on a breakaway lay-in with 5:20 left in the game.

The Sky played without All-Star Candice Dupree, who was in Florida for her grandmother’s funeral.

"Going into this game without Candice, we really felt confident in how we've been playing,” said Overton. “I told them, if we play hard and play together, we're going to have a chance in the fourth quarter to win this game. I thought we really fought hard. It gave us a chance to win. We had a couple of breaks go against us in the end, and we lost a close game. I'm really proud of how we played without Candice, and I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing again on Sunday."

The Sky and Mystics meet this Sunday in Washington at 3pm CDT, with the fourth and final spot in the East up for grabs.

“We kind of owe Washington right now, they have our number,” said Perkins. “We have been playing good basketball these past few games, except for the Connecticut game. We are playing pretty good ball and we are going to go there focused to try and get a win. ”

If the Sky can hold on to the fourth playoff spot, they will most likely square off against the Shock in the first round.

“We feel good about it,” said Perkins about playing the Shock in the playoffs. “But we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. We still have to win a few more games to secure our spot so we are ready to play whoever we have to in the playoffs.”