At this point in the season, every game is a “must-win” game for the Chicago Sky (14-15). So, that went without saying as the team took the floor against the New York Liberty (16-13) on Sunday evening. Adding to that sense of urgency is the fact that the Liberty is one of the teams within reach of the Sky for the fourth and final playoff spot in the east.
If you didn’t know these things before the game, the way that the two teams went at each other after the tip would have been an obvious indicator. The game was off to a frantic pace with neither team shy about shooting the ball.
“We need to run against every team that we play”, said Sky head coach Pokey Chatman. It’s good for us in terms of stretching the defense. It’s good because we have a big post-player that can run. It’s good for us that the defense doesn’t get set and we can get some advantages early. It’s not run-and-gun; it’s just push the tempo. That’s what we try to do for every game, really.”
New York alone took 41 shots in the first half. Luckily for Chicago though, they only made 16 of them while the Sky managed to make just one less, on 12 fewer attempts. Needless to say, the game was knotted at 40 by halftime.
Apparently, Cappie Pondexter did not like the fact that the Sky held her to just two points in the first half. She came out swinging in the second and was up to 10 after about a minute and a half of play; forcing coach Chatman to call a timeout.
Not to be outdone, Sylvia Fowles and Erin Thorn heated up as well. This proved to be the difference. The dominance of Fowles against an undersized New York team as she finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks; coupled with the sharp-shooting of Thorn who had 17 of her own and went 3-for-5 from downtown was too much for New York to handle.
However, fittingly, the game still came down to the very last possession. The track meet concluded with the Sky up 74-73 and Pondexter kept in check with 14 for the game. Although mathematically, they would not have been eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, this would have given the Sky an unfathomable task.
“I don’t know what I’d do without these girls”, said Fowles. They stayed positive the whole time, even though we got down by one point (close to the end). They just kept pushing each other and pushing me. Telling me to keep going.”
And with the win, the Sky live to play another game.