Dream Survive Resilient Sky

For nearly two scoreless minutes to begin Sunday’s matinee between the Chicago Sky and the Atlanta Dream, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference pushed and prodded, each feeling out the other’s defense. When Chicago rookie Elena Delle Donne’s layup finally dropped in, the floodgates opened and the shooting spree was on.

Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry continued her strong play against the Sky dating back to last season, when she averaged 25 points per game to split four, closely-fought battles. The All-Star and Olympian forward led the Dream with 23 points, including 3-of-5 from downtown to match her season total of treys coming into Sunday’s game.

The first half featured two wild swings, with each team gaining momentum in separate quarters. McCoughtry’s first five points kicked off a 16-0 run while Chicago, which got plenty of close looks in the paint, struggled to a 1-for-12 start.

Chicago shooting guard Allie Quigley came off the bench to score 12 of the Sky’s 18 points in the first 10 minutes to keep things close. Then it was Delle Donne’s turn. The unflappable rookie scored 12 of her 16 first-half points to help the Sky outscore the Dream 29-17 in the second quarter and bring Chicago within 51-47 at the break. Atlanta coach Fred William threw multiple defenders and the kitchen sink at Delle Donne. Despite double- and triple-teams, it seemed the 6-foot-5 forward would rescue the Sky as she had done the previous Sunday by sinking a pair of free throws to eclipse San Antonio. Delle Donne’s jumper-and-one pulled the Sky into a tie at 56 midway through the third quarter.

Sky forward Swin Cash contributed nine points and three rebounds while flustering McCoughtry at times with her stingy defense. Sylvia Fowles added eight points and 10 boards while point guard Courtney Vandersloot dished seven assists for the Sky. Quigley tied her season-high of 14 points for the game.

Atlanta guard Tiffany Hayes missed a triple-double with 16 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Jasmine Thomas chipped in 13 points and Erika de Souza balanced Fowles’ presence in the paint with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Le’coe Willingham, who played for Chicago last season, had seven points against her old team.

Chicago visits Tulsa for a morning matchup at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.