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updated: 8/13/2011 12:54 AM

Victory eludes Sky

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Just off the fingertips.

It might be a metaphor for the season.

Sky center Sylvia Fowles came oh-so-close to hauling in a long baseball pass in transition from teammate Courtney Vandersloot with 10 seconds left in Friday's game against the Minnesota Lynx at Allstate Arena.

The layup Fowles would have likely made would have tied the game and put the Sky in position to beat the WNBA's best and hottest team.

Instead, the ball hit Fowles' fingertips and bounced out of bounds. A free throw later and the Lynx escaped with a 79-76 victory in front of 6,289 heartbroken fans.

Unfortunately, Sky fans have suffered through similar close-but-no-cigar moments in this 10-14 season.

"I don't want to say that yet," Vandersloot said about the notion that her off-of-the-fingertips pass symbolizes the bigger picture for the Sky this season. "It's still right there for us. We just need to grab it and take it.

"I saw Syl sitting right there in the paint, right under the basket. I thought I had her. It's unfortunate that we didn't connect on that because I think usually we would. But I guess that's just the way the ball bounces."

With every loss from here on out, the Sky must worry about getting bounced from the playoff picture. Entering the game, the Sky was a half-game behind the Atlanta Dream for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

That margin is now at a full game with 10 games left.

"We haven't lost sight of it. The playoffs is the goal," said Fowles, who poured in a game-high 28 points by hitting 11 of 13 field goals. "But that comes with working hard and being consistent. What this game proved tonight is that we can do a lot going forward and that we can learn from our mistakes."

The Sky trailed by as many as 8 points in the fourth quarter to a seasoned Lynx team that has won 10 of its last 11 games and is now a WNBA-best 17-5 on the season. But Tamera Young scored 4 of her 16 points in a quick burst to help the Sky crawl back in.

When Cathrine Kraayeveld came up with a steal with 45 seconds left, Shay Murphy was able to score a fastbreak layup to cut the Sky's deficit to 2 points at 78-76.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin then missed 2 free throws with 9.2 seconds left to give the Sky another shot at tying the game at 78. But a driving layup attempt by Shay Murphy rolled off the rim with 2.9 seconds remaining.

"When you're playing a team that's the best in the league right now, the margin of error is pretty small," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "We did a lot of things to give ourselves a chance to win the basketball game. But when it comes down to it, we didn't capitalize on some things that we needed to."

The Sky also got 12 points from guard Epiphanny Prince. The Lynx was led by point guard Lindsay Whalen, who scored 16 points and dished out 6 assists.