Battling the Fever has left the Chicago Sky sick.
We're talking headache, queasy stomach and, above all, irritation.
"It's not good," Sky forward Tamera Young said.
For the third time this season and the 22nd time in 27 tries all-time, the Sky finished on the losing end of a game against the Indiana Fever.
Playing its second full game without leading scorer Epiphanny Prince, the Sky dropped an 81-72 decision to the Fever in front of 6,312 mostly young fans during a "Kids Camp Day" matinee Wednesday at Allstate Arena.
The loss extends the Sky's losing streak to three games and drops the Sky (7-4) further behind first-place Connecticut. Now, the Sky and Indiana (8-5) are tied for second, each at 1.5 games behind the Sun.
"The Fever is always more aggressive than we are when we play them. It showed today, and it shows pretty much every time," said Young, who scored 15 points in her role as Prince's replacement in the starting lineup. "We can't keep beating the same teams. We've got to beat the top teams, the best teams, and Indiana is always one of the best teams. We have to beat them to be better."
The Sky, which got a team-high 19 points from center Sylvia Fowles, also needed to take advantage of golden opportunities. And that didn't happen.
With a game in Atlanta Tuesday and rushed travel to Chicago, the Fever was battling fatigue and tired legs. But the Sky couldn't push tempo as much as hoped.
Also, the Fever's top two players, Chicago native Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, had a hard time finding the basket at Allstate. Catchings, last year's league MVP who is averaging 20.6 points per game, wound up with 17 points but was 3-of-15 from the field. Meanwhile, Douglas finished 10 points below her average with just 6 points on 2-of-8 shooting.
But the Fever got 18 points from forward Shavonte Zellous and 14 points from guard Jeanette Pohlen off the bench. They combined to hit 7-of-9 3-pointers. Fever center Tammy Sutton-Brown, who is averaging 4.5 points per game, chipped in with 10 points.
"We missed a lot of shots, a lot of layups," Catchings said. "But when one or two people are off, we usually have others picking it up."
Besides Young, forward Swin Cash did her best to provide a pick-me-up for the Sky. She scored a season-high 17 points to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
"Indiana is playing with the same toughness I've always seen them play with. That's what they do," said Cash, who will be leaving for London in three weeks with Fowles to play for the U.S. national team in the Olympics. "We have to just worry about ourselves first. We have to figure ourselves out, the identity that we're going to have and be consistent with how we play.
"We have the talent and ability to do this. Right now, it's mental toughness."
Veteran point guard Ticha Penicheiro figures to help in that department. Now in her 15th season, Penicheiro is a savvy leader who is the WNBA's all-time leader in assists. She finally made her way back into the rotation after having missed all but the season opener with a lower leg injury. Penicheiro was held scoreless in 16 minutes but did roll up 3 assists.
"It was good to have Ticha back. Swin was also a positive," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "You have to credit Indiana. That's a good team. We can take positives from some of the things we did. But we all have to look at ourselves individually to get better and we just have to grow from this."