No late game magic as Mercury smother Sky in the paint

The Sky dropped their fourth decision in a row to the visiting Mercury 84-81. Courtney Vandersloot’s offensive spark wasn’t enough to offset the team’s rough night in the paint, as the West’s leading scorer, DeWanna Bower paced the Mercury to victory with 27 points. The Sky were outrebounded uncharacteristically 42-25 and gave up a season high 17 offensive rebounds.

Swin Cash finished her night leading the Sky with 16 points, while Vandersloot picked up six assists and 13 points.

The Sky had the ball down 82-78 after Bonner fumbled an inbounds pass out of bounds, and Sonja Petrovic made it a one-point game with a three pointer. The Sky sent Thomas to the line where she made both free throws with 7.9 seconds left. On the ensuing possession Cash missed a possible game-tying three and Phoenix grabbed the rebound to end the game.

The Sky had struggled offensively in their last three games without Prince, scoring just 69.5 points per game, but contributions from Vandersloot, Shay Murphy (15 off the bench) and Cash helped them hang tough with the Mercury.

The Sky shot poorly for most of the first quarter and the Mercury, the league’s worst three point shooting team, connected on three of their five attempts beyond the arc. With Chicago trailing by five, Murphy came off the bench and scored seven straight points narrowing the deficit to two points going into the second quarter.

The Sky built a five-point lead of their own in the second quarter thanks to sharp passing from Vandersloot to Sylvia Fowles and Cash in the paint. Vandersloot finished the first half with four assists to go with a pair of three-pointers, while turning the ball over twice. Phoenix stormed back, however, ending the half on a 10-3 run to take a 49-43 lead before the buzzer.

Phoenix shot and impressive 55.9 percent from the field in the first half and the Mercury’s DeWanna Bonner led all scorers with 17 points (just two points off her season average of 19.8) at halftime.

Bonner’s hot streak continued in the second half as she helped Phoenix extend its lead to 14 points in the third quarter. The Sky, led by more offense from Vandersloot, again battled back to cut the deficit to 66-62 going into the fourth quarter.

The Sky drop to 1-12 against Phoenix all-time and are now 3-2 against Western Conference opponents. Chicago will look to finally break the slump Sunday when they host Atlanta on Gospel Night.