Rosemont, IL — The Chicago Sky are finally in full gear as all of their Olympians have returned from Rio, Brazil.
The Chicago Sky came into tonight's game with a chance of being swept by the Atlanta Dream. But thanks to Cappie Pondexter's experience and Cheyenne Parker's extra effort, the Sky fought for the first win back from the Olympic break.
"We took care of the basketball. The key was we married that to good offensive execution and attacks and got to the free throw line," Head Coach Pokey Chatman said on tonight's win over the Dream.
In the first quarter, the Sky set a fast pace that the Dream's Angel McCoughtry was the only one that seemed to know how to keep up with. McCoughtry had nine of her team's 19 in the first quarter.
Pondexter started heating up for the Sky. Three minutes into the game, Pondexter's three at the top of the key extended the Sky's lead to 14-7.
The Chicago's game plan was to obviously move the ball quickly and score quickly. As soon as Imani Boyette got the defensive board, she found Pondexter for the fast break. The Sky went on to an eight point lead over the Dream.
Atlanta started the second quarter with a blocked shot, but couldn't finish on the offensive end. The Dream gave up 11 points in the second quarter from their five turnovers.
Pondexter was still feeling it, as she started the Sky's 11-5 run with a fourth chance field goal.
Dream head coach Michael Cooper had to call a quick timeout to try to slow down Pondexter.
It worked for a little bit. She was still making quick, allusive moves to the basket, but her touch wasn't there. With just two minutes left, Pondexter showed the fans she was back. Pondexter put a quick "shake and bake" move over Bria Holmes for an impressive field goal. The Sky went back up by two, 41-39.
Atlanta's Tiffany Hayes answered with a three to take back the lead 42-41. With the second quarter coming to an end, Courtney Vandersloot fearlessly drove to the basket where 6'3 Elizabeth Williams was waiting on her. Vandersloot aggressively drew a foul forcing a three point play. Chicago won the second quarter, 44-42 .
Chicago came out of the locker room slower than the first half and Atlanta took advantage.
The Dream started the quarter with a 7-4 run. Holmes had back to back field goals giving her team a six-point lead in the middle of the third quarter.
But then, Parker made an appearance. An appearance her teammates and coach can honestly say changed the momentum of the game.
Parker's six crucial points gave the Sky a much needed 15-5 run to gain back the reins of the game. Parker's aggressive defense and deflections down low gave the Sky that extra push to finish what they started.
"I always crash to the boards. I make it a habit, like she said (pointing to Chatman) to crash to the boards to create second chance points. " shared Parker on her four offensive rebound performance.
Parker ended the night with 14 points, one point shy of her career high. The 6'4" forward forced two of the Dream's 12 turnovers in the paint with her quick hands and even quicker eyes.
Coach Chatman wouldn't say Parker has "changed" per say, she called her improvement a process.
“I would say it's the natural maturation process. Being around these players and knowing she is needed. She is creating opportunities for herself and she has always been aggressive."
Pondexter controlled the first half by creating shots and making great moves to the basket. But she finished the night shooting 8 for 17, with 14 points. To be fair, the stats should have a section for how many times a player crosses an opponent over.
Pondexter would have had five in that category after tonight's performance. But her fiery attitude kept her team focused and in the game.
"I'm a scorer. I could do a lot of things differently. It doesn't matter if it's falling or not,” she said.
The Chicago native, Cappie Pondexter, is definitely not discouraged from her stats tonight. She added, "We worked a lot on moving the ball to the post. It gave the post a lot of confidence."
With six minutes to go in the game, the Dream went on a 18-6 run. Williams and McCoughtry put their team on their back finishing the night with 20, and 22 points, respectively. But the Sky wanted it more and had just the perfect person to do so.
The Olympian, Elena Delle Donne, played with an even bigger chip on her shoulder as she shot perfection at the line, 14-14. The Gold medalist ended the night with 34 points, five assists, and eight rebounds.
The Sky look to continue their streak as they hit the road to Dallas on Sunday. Tipoff is at 3:30 pm.