ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Despite battling injuries and illness all season, the Chicago Sky remain in the playoff hunt with three regular-season games left.
Allie Quigley scored 17 points and the Chicago Sky prevented the Atlanta Dream from clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference with an 80-69 victory on Sunday night.
The Sky are tied for third place in the East. The top four conference teams qualify for the playoffs.
”We know despite all the people in and out of the lineup, injuries, people coming back, we believe we still have a huge opportunity to have some success,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said.
With Washington’s loss to Connecticut on Sunday, the Dream could have secured first place in the East with a victory. They were without top scorer Angel McCoughtry, who was averaging 19 points and 5.4 rebounds, because of tendinitis in her feet. Dream coach Michael Cooper said McCoughtry might miss the next game, but he expects her to be ready for the playoffs.
Sancho Lyttle had 16 points and Shoni Schimmel 15 for the Dream, who have clinched a playoff berth despite losing five straight and nine of 11. Atlanta has lost five straight for the first time since a 10-game losing streak in 2008.
”Our decline started when my sickness happened,” said Cooper, who underwent a surgical procedure for tongue cancer on July 24. ”We were playing good basketball up until that point. I’m not saying that’s any excuse, but we had great momentum going a little bit into the All-Star game. When this happens, there’s always a change and it’s difficult for a team.”
Elena Delle Donne scored 15, Jamierra Faulkner added 14 and Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince each had 13 for the Sky. Fowles grabbed 15 rebounds.
Faulkner’s 3-pointer gave the Sky a 67-58 lead with 5:42 remaining to cap a 12-5 run. Delle Donne made both free throws for a 10-point Sky lead with 2:10 left and made a jumper and 3-pointer in the final 40 seconds.
Schimmel’s 3-pointer extended the Dream’s lead to 45-37. The Sky pulled within three after Delle Donne hit a free throw when Lyttle was whistled for a technical, but Schimmel made another 3 for a 48-42 lead. Quigley made a layup and completed the foul shot on the other end before Schimmel hit her fifth 3 of the game.
Quigley nailed two 3-pointers in the final 1:01 to give the Sky a 55-53 lead after three quarters.
”Just trying to take advantage of the moment and not get too high when it’s going good and not too low when it’s going not-so good,” Quigley said.
The Dream took a 36-32 halftime lead. Lyttle scored 10 points as Atlanta shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range in the first half.
Delle Donne has been coming off the bench after missing more than a month due to a Lyme Disease flare-up. With the All-Star back and Fowles having returned from a hip injury, the Sky might add another player. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who has been sidelined since June 27 with a knee injury, is participating in drills and is ”close” to a return, Chatman said.