Jessica Breland and Cappie Pondexter scored 12 points a piece, and Elena Delle Donne continied to build her case for MVP with a 22-point performance in the Chicago Sky’s 71-68 victory over the Washington Mystics.
In a game that meant a lot as far as the Eastern Conference standings go, the Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky put on a captivating performance. However, Chicago’s lead actors did a much better job.
Jessica Breland, Cappie Pondexter and Elena Delle Donne combined for 46 points as the Sky continued to move toward the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 71-68 win over the visiting Mystics.
Courtney Vandersloot also had 10 assists in the win. Sky head coach/general manager Pokey Chatman did not seem too surprised by his team’s fighting spirit in this game, stating that he feels his team is among the best.
“I don’t even know who played tonight or who won. I just know what we have to do because I have enough on this roster and in my locker room to beat any team,” Chatman said.
The Mystics had to look at other sources for scoring today; leading scorer and All-Star Stefanie Dolson was limited to only eight points in the loss. Guard Ivory Latta, who came off the bench in their last game, started in place of team leader Kara Lawson, and scored 19 points.
Latta credited her success to the efforts of her teammates, though she wasn’t too thrilled about the end result.
“My teammates (were) finding me, getting open and making the shots,” Latta said. “We didn’t win, though, so that’s what’s in my head right now.”
The Sky got the game started early with a quick jumper by Courtney Vandersloot, followed by a Delle Donne layup. After ending the first quarter with a 23-17 lead, the Sky quickly cooled down, allowing the Mystics to score 22 points in the second quarter.
Latta made two three-pointers at the end of the half to give the Mystics a 39-34 lead going into halftime. In the second half, Breland came to life, getting 9 of her 12 points in the second half; including two crucial jumpers to give the Sky back the lead in the fourth quarters.
She also had eight rebounds in the game, giving her team the edge it needed to keep in the game.
“I just think about what I can bring to the team, and that’s rebounding and defense,” Breland said. “I try and focus on that, and then I happen to be open sometimes and my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball.”
While Breland did her job to keep the Sky in the game, it was Delle Donne who would make the shot that counted. With 19 seconds to go and facing a 68-67 deficit, she made a running four-foot shot to give the Sky the lead for good.
Latta would come back in for the Mystics with three seconds to go, missing a three-pointer that would’ve won the game. Breland then made two foul shots to put the icing on top. Mystics head coach Mike Thibault gave Chicago credit for making shots when they need to, something his Washington team didn’t do.
“Offensively, I thought we got timid. Our post players, who throughout the course of our season have shot over 50 percent as a group, tonight shot about 37 percent,” Thibault said. “We had good shots and we didn’t make them. Delle Donne does what she does, and she makes hers.”
By winning last night’s game, the Sky improved to 12-8, climbing into a virtual tie with the Mystics (11-7) for second place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are now one and a half games back of the first-place New York Liberty, who improved to 13-6 on Sunday with a 78-62 win over Seattle.