Cappie Pondexter put the Chicago Sky on her back last night with an amazing performance, 29 points on 78% shooting.
In their past two matchups, the Connecticut Sun have found a way to dampen the prolific offensive attack that the Sky boast in Chicago’s starting lineup. The Sun, who hold the second best defensive rating in the league, beat Chicago in their third game of the season, holding the Sky to 65 points.
Ten days ago, the Sky exacted revenge in a two-point win over Connecticut, but scored 8 points below their 85 point per game average.
But last night, Chicago combined their best effort on both sides of the ball, blowing out the Sun 96-76, extending their win streak to three in a row.
After sharing the load with Elena Delle Donne in the Sky’s last win, veteran Cappie Pondexter took it upon herself to lead the team. Pondexter led all scorers with a season-high 29 points and dished out 7 assists. She was as automatic as could be, shooting 11-14 from the field, including five threes.
Pondexter said that her complementary skill set relative to Delle Donne helps both of them be more effective. “My game is totally different than Elena’s, and we’re helping each other,” she said. “The way I play, the way she plays, it opens up the floor for both of us. We’re going to have games like this, where I’m hitting every shot, and she’s hitting every shot.”
Delle Donne, pitched in on offense herself, scoring 12 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists. However, at the end of the day, this win was about defense for the Sky.
The Sky took the lead for good on a Jessica Breland jumper with 3:35 remaining in the opening quarter. Chicago held an eight point lead at halftime, but opened the game up with a 10-2 run to start the third quarter.
Connecticut coach Anne Donovan would call a timeout to help stop the Sun’s offensive explosion. But a Pondexter three-pointer two minutes later would spark another Chicago run, and that 9-0 stretched the lead to twenty, a deficit the Sun never overcame.
Connecticut starters Alex Bentley and Kelsey Bone finished with 14 and 18 points, respectively, but no other Sun starters scored more than 6 points. Tough defensive effort from Chicago’s frontcourt helped hold Camille Little to a 2-8 shooting night from the field, after filling the stat sheet with an all-around performance in the team’s last loss to Chicago.
Donovan gave all due respect to Chicago for their performance, saying, “All credit to Chicago; they played lights out. I thought they showed great confidence and composure against Minnesota, and they took the next step against us.”
She expects the team to return to form after a long rest period. “We need to regroup. This was definitely a low point for us. I don’t think we showed the same tenacity we’ve been showing. After ten days, hopefully we can get it back.”
Bone returned to action after serving a one-game suspension for elbowing Indiana Fever forward Natalie Achonwa in the head during a failed comeback in the midst of the fourth quarter.
Sun guard Jasmine Thomas was also forced into a tough night from the field, also shooting 2-8. Connecticut shot 45% as a team.
The Sun got production from a few reserve players. Guard Kelly Faris, who did not play in the team’s last matchup, managed 12 points on 5-7 shooting in her 20 minutes. Kayla Pederson, who dropped back out of the starting lineup with Bone’s return, made all four of her shots from the field.
Chicago took advantage of a 31-19 advantage on the glass, an advantage that was underscored by the team’s nine offensive rebounds and the 12 points those boards led to.
The Sky improve to 8-5, and will try to reach a new season high with a fourth win a row against the Mystics on Wednesday.