Chicago, IL -- It was a team seasoned with veterans in the Chicago Sky, (6-7) clashing with a young but mightily hungry squad in the San Antonio Stars (2-10) for the second time this season.
While the Stars were searching for their first victory on the road in the 2016 regular season, while Chicago was seeking payback after a one-point loss in San Antonio on May 27.The outcome: a fiercely competitive ball game where the Sky walked away victorious behind Elena Delle Donne's 23 points.
Just moments after she was honored as one of the WNBA's 20 greatest players, Cappie Pondexter made it known why. Pondexter paced the Chicago Sky in period one with five of her 15 total points, three rebounds, and one assist, after just 10 minutes of action.
Despite Delle Donne being held scoreless in the first quarter, the Sky had a one-point advantage heading into period two. San Antonio's Monique Currie, accounted for 60 percent of the Stars' offense with 3:30 to go - and her hot hand remained intact.
Currie was the first player to double figures, as she hit the 10-point mark halfway through the second quarter. For the Sky, Jamierra Faulkner cashed in seven points and did not miss a shot until the 18th minute.
The Sky was able to jump out to a 25-18 lead to kick off period two, much in part to their defensive efforts. Delle Donne started the game 0-5, but hit back-to-back shots, as the half winded down to force a San Antonio timeout.
At the half, the Sky led the Stars 35-32 despite one of their poorest shooting performances of the season. Not to mention, San Antonio held a frustrated Delle Donne to a mere four points. The young backcourt in Kayla McBride and Moriah Jefferson for the Stars, pitched in a combined 10 points - eight of them Jefferson's - five rebounds and two assists.
The leading scorers for both squads - Delle Donne at 18.4 ppg and McBride at 18.2 ppg - stayed quiet while other players roared.
Naturally, Delle Donne's silence was short-lived. Halfway through the third quarter, she was up to 12 points, and the Sky had their largest lead of the game at 45-35. Courtney Vandersloot notched a textbook steal - her season-high third of the evening - and found Delle Donne down the floor for the easy bucket.
What seemed like a promising lead turned into one that was quickly dissolved. San Antonio continued to chip away at Chicago's lead and got it back down to two, much in part to three's from McBride and Jefferson.
Jefferson led all scorers with 3:30 to go in the third, after she tied the lead with two free throws. Shortly after, she put San Antonio up 49-47 to lift her points total to 13 and cap off a 12-0 Stars run.
Faulkner continued to rattle home shots and proved to be a huge difference maker off the bench for Chicago. Her contributions - in tandem with Delle Donne's relentlessness on both ends of the floor - helped give the Sky a 58-53 lead heading into the final period.
Flirting with a double-double, Tamera Young helped keep the momentum alive for Chicago to start the fourth quarter. She finished the night with eight points and nine rebounds. Jefferson, however, never let San Antonio's deficit get out of hand. She drained back-to-back threes to open up period four and was just one-point shy of tying her career-high 19 points with under six minutes to go.
The rookie finished with a new career-high of 20 points, but it wasn't quite enough. The trifecta of Delle Donne, Pondexter and Faulkner led the way to help snap a three-game losing streak and get Chicago back on the winning track.