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updated: 8/24/2014 11:27 PM

Sky can't close out Dream at home

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Before Sunday's Sky playoff game at the Allstate Arena, reserve guard Allie Quigley was recognized at half-court for being voted by the media as the WNBA's Sixth Woman of the Year.

The former DePaul star played a vital role in helping the Sky get to the playoffs in spite of a rash of injuries to key players and starters. She's averaging 11.2 points off the bench and she scored 20 points against top-seeded Atlanta in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Quigley was one of four players in double-figures for the Sky.

The problem was at the other end, where the Sky had no answer for Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry. Even the Sky's Sixth Woman, seventh and eighth women and all five starters combined may not have been enough to stop a determined McCoughtry.

Pouring in a game-high 39 points, McCoughtry relentlessly willed her team to a 92-83 victory that ties the three-game series at 1-1. The Sky won the series opener Friday in Atlanta, which is where the closer will be Tuesday.

The winner advances to the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Fever.

"I really just wanted our team to win, and I wanted the ball in my hands," said McCoughtry, who averages 18.5 points. "I wanted to take over the game, and my teammates got me the ball and trusted me with it.

"I was really upset about (Atlanta's Game 1 loss). I kept replaying it in my mind over and over. But I knew I had to let it go coming into this game. I just wanted to learn from it and do things differently."

McCoughtry did just that. She was much more efficient Sunday, when she got to the basket with ease. She connected on 13 of 20 shots and 13 of 14 free throws. Friday in Atlanta, she was 8 of 22 from the field.

"We've got to mix it up better on her with different defenders," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of her strategy for McCoughtry in Game 3. "And we've got to do what we did in Game 1, and that's not let her get a head of steam.

"It's a difficult guard 1-on-1 with these top players in the league. We have to make sure it's a team effort."

The Sky also has to make sure to take better care of the ball. Atlanta scored 22 points off the Sky's 19 turnovers. The Dream leads the league in steals and turnovers forced.

Some of the Sky's turnovers led to easy fastbreaks for Atlanta, which outscored the Sky 28-6 in fastbreak points.

Rebounding and defense in the paint also were issues for the Sky.

Without the services of starting forward Jessica Breland, who was on the bench in street clothes because of a shoulder injury that she sustained Friday, the Sky lost the rebounding battle 32-26. The Dream had 48 points in the paint.

"It's huge (to be without Breland)," Chatman said. "Breland could alter shots and get some rebounds, but she was only available for three minutes on Friday (and the Sky still won), so I can't really lean on that too much, especially when we travel home and have the opportunity to close it out.

"I wish that were the only issue."

The Sky, which is playing in just its second postseason in the nine-year history of the franchise and has never won a playoff series, is understandably disappointed at letting an opportunity to close the door at home slip away.

"It's definitely frustrating that we didn't close it out at home," said Delle Donne, who scored 16 of her team-high 22 points in the first half but was limited to just 6 points and an 0-for-5 clip from the field in the second half when McCoughtry was assigned to guard her.

"But we were able to get that first win on the road. We're going to have to really dig down deep to get that second win on the road. It's not like this team hasn't faced adversity before."

The Sky also got 19 points from guard Epiphanny Prince and 14 points from center Sylvia Fowles.

After McCoughtry, the Dream got double figures from only one other player. Guard Tiffany Hayes finished with 15 points.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

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