Making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history looked like a realistic possibility for the Chicago Sky earlier this season, but they could soon find themselves out of contention if their recent woes continue.
A home-and-home set against the Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut Sun isn't likely to help their cause.
The Sky try to avoid a 10th consecutive loss Sunday when they visit the Sun, winners of seven of eight.
After jumping out to a 7-1 start thanks in part to superb play from Epiphanny Prince, Chicago (8-14) saw its season take a turn for the worse June 16 when she broke her foot during an 84-70 defeat at Indiana. While the Sky lost seven of eight during Prince's absence, her return to the court following the Olympic break hasn't made much difference.
Averaging 24.3 points in eight games before her injury, Prince has scored 11.0 per game on 32.0 percent shooting in five contests this month. She came off the bench for the first time this season Friday, scoring 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting during an 81-78 overtime loss at Tulsa. The Sky led by 11 in the fourth quarter before falling apart.
Courtney Vandersloot had a career-best 23 points off the bench while Shay Murphy scored 17 and added 10 rebounds for the Sky, who've suffered six losses by six points or fewer - four in OT - during their nine-game skid.
Chicago's longest slide since it lost 13 straight during its inaugural season in 2006 has dropped the club outside of playoff position in the East.
One of those deflating defeats came against the Sun (17-5) on July 13. Connecticut rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit before pulling out an 80-78 overtime victory on Allison Hightower's layup with 8.9 seconds left in the extra period.
The Sun are coming off another dramatic win, beating the Shock 82-80 in overtime Tuesday. Kara Lawson played the role of hero this time around, making a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.8 seconds left in OT.
"Kara doesn't have any fear," coach Mike Thibault said of Lawson, who signed a three-year extension last weekend. "Great players want to take big shots."
Lawson finished with 19 points and matched a season best with five 3s. In contrast, she was limited to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting versus Chicago last month.
The Sky, 2-13 when their opponent scores at least 70 points, could have trouble slowing down a Sun team averaging 82.2. These teams meet again Tuesday at Chicago.