What's the best way to turn a frown upside down?
Well, for the Chicago Sky, it's following up a record-breaking display of futility with a near 20-point win over the best team in the WNBA's Eastern Conference.
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Smiles were stretched from ear-to-ear -- and deservedly so -- on every Sky player in the wake of an 88-69 victory over the Indiana Fever on Sunday in front of 5,794 at Allstate Arena.
The win moves the Sky to 10-12 on the season, still good for fourth place (and the final playoff spot) in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the first-place Fever suffered a loss for the first time in six games and dropped to 15-7.
"Finally!" smiley Sky center Sylvia Fowles declared inside the locker room minutes after the game ended. "We know we are good enough to play with the best teams and we've been wanting to show that and we finally did."
The timing couldn't have been better.
Just three days earlier in New York, the Sky set a WNBA record for fewest points in a quarter -- 1 -- in a fourth-quarter collapse that led to a 10-point loss. The Sky was 0-for-10 from the field and coughed up the ball nine times in the period.
Against Indiana, the Sky hit 9 of 15 fourth-quarter shots.
"This is such a great win for our organization," said a practically giddy Shay Murphy, a reserve guard who came off the bench to spark the Sky with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. "Indiana is such a great team. Any time you get a win against the No. 1 team in the conference, it's huge.
"We're so happy that we finally put 40 minutes together. Against New York, we actually played pretty good defense. We held them to 59 points. I think we were able to take that positive into tonight because we played good defense again tonight. The difference was that we got our offense going and we were able to execute."
And just about everyone was in on the action.
The Sky got 21 points out of Fowles and 10 from starting forward Tamera Young, but the headline was the production from the bench, which outscored Indiana's reserves 44-27. Murphy and forward Cathrine Kraayeveld were the difference makers. After failing to play a single minute in New York, the struggling Kraayeveld lit up the scoreboard with four 3-pointers, 3 of which came while the Sky was pulling away in the third quarter.
"It took everybody," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "And you've got to be ready when your number is called. It boiled down to our ability to defend, rebound and attack the basket and get to the free throw line."
Guard Katie Douglas scored a team-high 14 points for Indiana while former Stevenson star Tamika Catchings, the Fever's leading scorer, was held to just 8 points, 6 points below her average.
• Patricia Babcock McGraw, who covers the WNBA for the Daily Herald, also provides color commentary for Chicago Sky broadcasts.