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Delle Donne's heroics, energetic fire elevates Sky

The Chicago Sky have been struggling on the defensive end this season. Tonight their coach was pleased with what she saw and much of the credit goes to the leadership of starting forward, Elena Delle Donne.

Scott Cunningham/Getty

Rosemont, IL -- There were many headlines coming into tonight's game: the second and third all-time scorers from Rutgers faced off (Chicago’s Cappie Pondexter with 2,211 pts and Washington rookie Kahleah Copper with 1,872 pts). Also, there were three former UNC teammates went head to head -- Chicago's Jessica Breland Mystics' Ivory Latta and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt).

But there was one headline that stood out the most: Elena Delle Donne's performance.Tonight, she had a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds, one steal and two assists from the forward.

"They usually match me with a 4, and I like that a lot,” said Delle Donne. “But we were able to find mismatches and take our time."

"She was crucial tonight. She was aggressive early," Sky coach Pokey Chatman continued, "A player like Elena causes the other team to double-team which allows other players like (she points at the players) Vandersloot and Boyette do get involved."

The second half was really where Delle Donne put her imprint on the game. Less than two minutes left in the third quarter, she missed her trademark jumper, but an aggressive rebound by Tamera Young, who dished it back to Delle Donne, which led to an impressive spin move scored around Emma Meesseman.

That bucket gave the Sky had the lead, 63-59. And that shot punctuated Chicago's 25-point quarter, compared to the Mystics' 11-point third quarter.

Delle Donne sparked a lot of needed energy into her team during the third quarter. She even talked to her Assistant Coach, Christie Sides, during the game about how important her energy is to the team.

"We noticed how much my energy benefits the team. I'll do whatever it takes to win." With a smile, she added, "If it's a cartwheel, I'll do it. However, I did see how my energy helps with the overall energy of the team and I'll continue to show that."

With one minute left in regulation, Delle Donne was at the top of the paint. She elevated off the court with a beautiful release in the air and banked in the jump shot to take her team to overtime, 77-77.

And then in overtime -- she did it again.

She stole the ball with 45 seconds left in the game. She drove towards the left side of the basket, (it looked like she was going to pass up the rim) but somehow flipped the ball into the rim with the right hand, tying the game up at 84 apiece.

The Chicago Sky snapped their two-game losing streak and broke Washington's run.

"This is a good Washington team. We needed this win." Chapman, extremely proud of her team, went on to say, "The difference tonight was that I felt the energy. I heard all five players talking at once, if one player got beat, they trusted the other teammates to be there and make up for it without reaching in."

An excited Chapman ended the press conference with a loud clap and a, "Whoohoo!"

The other leaders from tonight's game was Erika De Souza with an impressive eight rebounds in the third quarter, totaling nine rebounds and five points. De Souza also had two blocks, one being the game-winning block.

Mystics' Tayler Hill finished with 25 points, two steals, three assists, and four rebounds.

The Sky look to bring this momentum with them to Minnesota, as they take on the Lynx Tuesday. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.