Chicago Sky come ahead in nail-biter
Winning every game by 20 points certainly would be nice.
But like it or not, every team needs a few nail-biters, where adversity it prevalent, toughness is demanded and ultimately, character is formed for the long haul.
The Chicago Sky had one of those games Sunday night at Allstate Arena. Down by as many as 9 points in the third quarter, the Sky rallied for a 71-68 victory over the Washington Mystics.
The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Sky, who move to 12-8 and also keep pace with the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
"We found a way to win," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "I think you learn a lot more about yourself and also your players (in a game like this). You see some things that you can use later on, you see what leadership can do for you when there's adversity.
"But um, yeah...I'd still like to win by 20. I'd prefer that."
The Sky got a big finish out of forward Jessica Breland, who scored half of her 12 points in the fourth quarter alone. She also grabbed 4 of her 8 boards, including a rebound of Washington's desperation 3-pointer in the final seconds that was an attempt to tie the game, but missed.
"I like to think about rebounding when I step out onto the court," Breland said. "I'm like, 'What can I bring to the team,' and it's rebounding and defense, so I try to focus on that. And I happened to be open sometimes (tonight) and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball."
Breland was one of three Sky players in double-figures. Guard Cappie Pondexter also had 12 points and forward Elena Delle Donne, who hit a jumper with 19.4 seconds left that gave the Sky a 69-68 advantage and the lead for good, finished with a game-high 22 points. She had four 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, point guard Courtney Vandersloot posted her second straight game of double-figure assists. She had 10 after dishing out 13 assists Friday against Los Angeles.
Pondexter, who added 5 assists, was vocal in the huddle, determined to motivate her teammates to protect their home floor. The Sky lost only its second home game of the season on Friday to the Sparks.
"It's important (to win at home), especially the way we started the season where we really had to win on the road (with eight of the first 11 games on the road)," Pondexter said. "We did the hard part. We won on the road. I told the girls at halftime that this is the opportunity we get to sleep in our own beds, and we get to go to our own practice gym, our own game gym. It's an opportunity and we have to make the most of it. I think the message was clear and we came out (in the second half) and were fighting."
Guard Ivory Latta topped Washington (11-7) with 19 points on 3 three-pointers. Forward Emma Meesseman was the only other player to reach double-figures for the Mystics. She had 10 points.
Next game: Indiana Fever at Sky, 7 p.m. Tuesday.