It’s a long time coming.
But it does, in fact, seem to be coming for the Chicago Sky.
It, of course, is a playoff berth.
The Sky has never once qualified for the postseason over its eight-year existence in the WNBA. But the current team is doing everything in its power to put that dubious distinction on ice.
On Saturday night, the Sky yet again handled the New York Liberty. An 80-69 victory over New York in front of 6,037 at the Allstate Arena moved the Sky to 12-4 and kept the team atop the Eastern Conference standings.
With just a game left before the all-star break, this is the latest into the season that the Sky, 4-0 against the Liberty and 7-1 at home, has been in first place.
“There have been some testing times (over the years),” said Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who has spent her entire six-year WNBA career in Chicago. “But, with that said, even though the Sky has been unsuccessful in the past this season just makes up for all those other seasons.
“I’m happy with the position that we’re in. We’re playing well, and I feel like we’re not even playing our best basketball yet. We can even step it up a notch.”
Fowles stepped up her own game, fighting through a nagging right-ankle injury that kept her out of a game against New York on Thursday in Newark.
After a week of intense rehab and multiple workouts in the pool, Fowles was able to notch her seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds in 27 minutes.
“She was huge,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of Fowles. “We don’t win if she doesn’t play. It changes the play calls and you’re able to do different things defensively.”
Speaking of defense, the Sky turned in another stingy effort, forcing New York (6-10) into 36 percent shooting from the floor. The Sky also scored 17 points off the Liberty’s 14 turnovers and set a team record with a whopping 13 blocked shots.
Chicago native and star guard Cappie Pondexter finished with a game-high 22 points for New York, but she was hounded into an 8-for-20 shooting effort by Sky defensive stopper Tamera Young.
Young had her offense going, too. She came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points and went off for 12 of those points when the Sky needed offense in a sluggish second quarter.
Young’s outburst was well-timed as the Sky got a season-low 7 points (on 2-of-8 shooting) from leading scorer and newly minted all-star starter Elena Delle Donne, who is averaging 19.4 points in her rookie season.
“I don’t know what exactly New York’s scheme was to just shut down Elena,” Fowles said. “I’m just glad that everyone else stepped up and completed the puzzle because it shows that we’re more than just Elena.
“She’s basically the head of the snake, but we have other pieces.”
The Sky, which goes to Washington on Wednesday, also got 13 points from forward Swin Cash and 11 points apiece out of guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.