Atlanta, GA — Although both the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky are two teams near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they both had a lot to play for tonight. Atlanta tried to break even at .500 to keep themselves relevant, while Chicago played to get their third win of the season.
Cappie Pondexter’s 17 points moved her into fourth place on the all-time scoring list behind Tamika Catchings. Allie Quigley had 22 points -- the most of the game and the Sky’s Elizabeth Williams had a double-double with 20 points--the most points she’s made all season —and 10 rebounds.
The Dream’s star, Tiffany Hayes tallied 15 points on the night with three personal fouls including a technical, and Brittney Sykes had 18 points, a new career-high.
There was a lot of sloppy play in the first quarter making for a slow game with only seven points in the first 4:05 minutes. Pondexter made a pull-up jump shot that put her in the fourth all-time scorer's list. Stefanie Dolson for the Chicago Sky had the most points with 13 in the first half.
Atlanta started the game with good defense – it started to let up in the second period at a critical time though. While the Dream’s defense began to relax, Chicago started to come back and ended up outscoring Atlanta, 28-22 in the second period.
The end of the first half featured a buzzer beater to make the Sky take the lead making it 43-41; however, after review, the shot was called off, keeping the game tied at 41 apiece heading into intermission.
Allie Quigley came out of halftime guns blazing with nine points in the first five minutes of the third quarter. The Dream started to foul everywhere and its undisciplined play rubbed off on Hayes as she picked up a technical foul.
Play continued to go downhill for Atlanta as not only was its defensive not stopping Chicago, its offense was not in sync either. During once possession, the Dream had three chances to score after two consecutive offensive boards but still, could not capitalize on its extra possessions.
“When you don’t play defense and we’re not hitting shots, that calls for double trouble,” Head Coach Michael Cooper said about Atlanta’s need to improve after the night. “I thought they did a good job of putting the pressure on us and their transition.
“The biggest part is that we held too many second efforts to them, especially when we got into our zone and they started missing. We didn’t capitalize on the other end and then they came back down and got second shots for the scores,” Cooper concluded.
The third quarter ended as the shot clock expired after Atlanta tried once again to score to no avail. As for Chicago, Quigley tallied five more points with a three-pointer and layup to bring her point total to 18. The Sky held the lead going into the final frame, 60-53.
“I was just being aggressive and my teammates were finding me and helping me out,” Quigley stated on her strong shooting.
As the fourth quarter started, Atlanta fell behind even more. Quigley made another three-point shot to give her 21, and Tamera Young slid in a driving layup shot for her first point of the game.
Dolson racked up her third foul for the night, but it was balanced out by Pondexter’s three and Quigley’s pull up jump shot that made the score 77-63 Chicago. The Sky had a play set up, but it was efficiently blocked by Sykes.
As the game progressed, the ref's whistles seemed to be constantly being blown. Teams traded off fouls as Atlanta chipped away at its deficit. Courtney Vandersloot picked up a personal foul, which allowed the Dream to pull within five points of Chicago, 76-71. Momentum continued for the home team as Williams cashed in two more points bringing the score to 76-73.
Even though Atlanta outscored Chicago 18-16 in the final frame, the Dream could not overcome its sloppy play, dropping the game to the Sky, 82-78.
Although the home team did not win, excitement could be seen on the fans’ faces as they enjoyed the sights of former Atlanta Hawk’s players Dwight Howard and Dikembe Mutombo were in attendance. With stars in attendance Cooper wasn’t pleased to see his team lose the game.
“Tough game to lose especially having a lot of Hawks players, Dwight (Howard), Angel (McCoughtry) and her ring ceremony. We played hard,” said Cooper.
“We miss Sancho (Lyttle) a lot, but you can’t cry over spilled milk. I thought we did an okay job of rebounding, but we did a bad job of covering and getting out to those three-point shooters. I thought we had a lot of opportunities to score that we didn’t take advantage of.”
“We did a good job of pressuring them defensively a lot and making it really difficult for them, so that’s just something we need to keep up,” Dolson stated on her team’s victory.
Next up, Atlanta will host Los Angeles, a team the Dream has already beat this season, and Cooper is hoping the Dream “will be a tough matchup for the Sparks.”
As for Chicago, it will look to keep its winning momentum going when they play Washington on Sunday.
“[We] need to continue to move the ball well offensively and find the next path…just like Atlanta, Washington has post players who shoot the ball well, so [they] have to make sure we’re rotating and contesting their shots…inside and outside,” head coach Amber Stocks said on the Sky’s next game.