The odds were against the Chicago Sky. Again.
But even without Olympic center Sylvia Fowles in the lineup, the Sky had high hopes before Tuesday night's showdown against the Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut Sun.
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After all, just two days earlier the Sky bucked the odds and got a 12-point win on the Sun's home floor, down not only Fowles but also fellow starter Tamera Young.
This time, though, the house won the round, and the Sun left the Allstate Arena with an 83-72 victory.
"Forty-eight hours later, they're a good team, they're going to make adjustments," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of the Sun.
The Sky hung around and got some solid individual performances out of multiple players, including reserve center Carolyn Swords, who was starting in place of Fowles (out for personal reasons) for the second straight game.
The Sun was able to dodge this bullet by shooting the ball better, particularly from 3-point range (50 percent), and getting the production out of star center Tina Charles that was missing the last time.
On Sunday, Charles, ranked sixth in the WNBA in scoring at 18 points per game and second in rebounding at 11 per game, was held by the Sky to a modest 15 points and 8 rebounds.
This time Charles went off for 24 points and 14 rebounds to help her team move to 18-6, 2½ games ahead of the Indiana Fever in the standings. The Sky, which plays at Indiana on Saturday, dropped to 9-15 but is still a half-game ahead of the New York Liberty for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East.
The win at Connecticut on Sunday was key not only because it gave the Sky that slight edge over New York in the standings but also because it snapped a nine-game losing streak.
"Our energy level and our intensity was better this time, the way we approached the game was better," Charles said. "But it was still tough. I thought Carolyn Swords did a great job for Sylvia. She's a good player. I knew about her back when she was (in college) at Boston College. I knew it wasn't going to be easy with her in there."
Swords had a career-high 14 points and 6 rebounds Sunday and was tough again inside with 10 points and 7 rebounds. She was one of five Sky players in double figures.
Guard Courtney Vandersloot led the way with 17 points, while forward Swin Cash added 15. Epiphanny Prince and Sonja Petrovic also had 10 apiece.
"I've been really proud of this team, the way we've rallied together," Swords said. "Everyone has stepped up and had a good few days. From this day, we know can continue to come together and keep working up."
Swords knew she had her work cut out for her going against Charles. But she sees a very similar player every day in Fowles, the top rebounder in the WNBA. Fowles is expected to play Saturday at Indiana.
"I just wanted to make it difficult for Tina to get position inside," Swords said. "I wanted to keep her away from the block, but Tina Charles is a phenomenal player."