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updated: 9/23/2012 2:23 AM

Sky's Penicheiro retires with win

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Some Chicago Sky players were in tears after Thursday's loss to the Atlanta Dream.

The tears come from the frustration of being officially eliminated from the playoff race on the second to the last day of the season.

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On Saturday, there were more tears at Allstate Arena.

This time, though, they were tears of joy and admiration.

Prior to tipoff of the regular-season finale against the Washington Mystics, the Sky honored veteran point guard Ticha Penicheiro with gifts, flowers and a "This Is Your Life" type of video montage that was projected onto the jumbo screen high above center court.

Penicheiro, the WNBA's all-team leader in assists who was acquired by the Sky last winter in free agency, announced earlier in the week that her 15-year career would be coming to an end as she intended to retire at the end of the season.

The video included clips of some of Penicheiro's best plays over the years, as well as touching comments from former teammates.

"I told Ticha that she couldn't cry during the video," Sky guard Epiphanny Prince said with a laugh. "But the funny thing is, I was the one trying to hold back my tears."

Prince wasn't the only one. Forward Swin Cash was wiping away tears with her shirt and other players and fans were clearly misty-eyed.

But the tears turned to big smiles a couple hours later as the Sky sent Penicheiro out in style with a 77-58 victory over the Mystics in front of 6,721 on Fan Appreciation Night. That gives the Sky, still seeking its first playoff berth after seven years in the league, a final record of 14-20 for the second consecutive season.

Penicheiro started the game, got a couple of assists and a steal and was given a standing ovation when she left the court with under a minute to play.

"I played here for only one year, but to see the way this team has embraced my retirement is definitely special," said Penicheiro, who also ranks No. 2 in WNBA history in steals. "It was an amazing ceremony and I was trying really hard not to cry. (The Sky) worked so hard to do it all right and to send me off in a good way and that makes me very humble."

Fellow point guard Courtney Vandersloot was determined that Penicheiro also get sent off with a win. She helped the Sky recover from a 5-point halftime deficit and a scary 21 percent shooting clip in the first half by scoring all of her game-high 20 points in the second half.

The Sky finished with a 43 percent shooting clip to 34 percent for the Mystics, who also lost the rebounding war, 41-24.

"It was a good feeling to come out and help us out a bit because that first half was rough," Vandersloot said. "I was just trying to be more aggressive and get us that jump.

"We're still disappointed at not making the playoffs. That won't change. But (head coach) Pokey (Chatman) kept saying this was the beginning of next year. And it feels good going into that with a good win. It feels like we connected some dots in the second half."

Prince (12 points), Cash (10 points) and rookie guard Sonja Petrovic (10 points) also finished in double figures for the Sky. Former Sky forward Monique Currie topped Washington (5-29) with 15 points. The Mystics finished with the worst record in the WNBA.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

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