The Chicago Sky have failed to make the postseason in each of their previous five years in the WNBA. All-Star center Sylvia Fowles is doing her best to help end that drought.
Looking to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month, the Sky try for a fifth straight victory over the struggling Washington Mystics on Saturday night.
Chicago hasn't posted a winning record in its five seasons and brought an overall 61-109 record into 2011, but Fowles isn't deterred by that history, stating earlier this summer that playoffs are the goal.
She ranks near the top of the league with 20.1 points per game, and her efforts have fifth-place Chicago (11-14) in a battle for the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Fowles went 12 of 16 from the floor and scored 28 points for the second consecutive game Sunday, leading the Sky past San Antonio 85-73. She also grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds to record her season-best fourth consecutive double-double.
Chicago outrebounded the Silver Stars 45-20 and 12-3 on the offensive glass.
"That's about as dominating a presence in the post that I have ever seen," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said of Fowles. "And I've coached over 300 games."
Fowles has been healthy this season and feels more comfortable in Chicago's system.
"This is the first year I can be myself," said Fowles, who appeared in a combined 41 games during her first two seasons. "My first two years I got hurt, last year was an off year for me. But this season, I feel like I can broaden my horizons and get better."
The Mystics know Fowles' ability to control a game all too well. She had a season-high 34 points and 16 rebounds as the Sky defeated Washington 78-65 on July 5 - their second victory in the series this year. Chicago also took the last two meetings of 2010.
The Sky, though, will have to remain focused on handling lowly Washington before a vital matchup with Atlanta on Tuesday.
The Mystics (5-18) suffered their third straight defeat and eighth in 10 games Thursday, 81-62 to Minnesota. Leading scorer Crystal Langhorne, averaging 18.5 points, was held to 11 during the club's most lopsided defeat of the year.
Washington's previous five losses were by a combined 18 points.
"We've been pretty close in every single game, but you have these days where nothing is really clicking," said guard Matee Ajavon, who scored a team-high 15. "Defense is always supposed to be there but they were just scoring at will."
Slowing down opponents has been an issue for the Mystics all season. Opponents are shooting 46.7 percent against them, second highest in the league.