Sky, Wings meet in battle of defensively challenged foes
The Chicago Sky finally have something positive to draw on.
Now they hope to carry some confidence gained from a 100-76 victory over the league-leading Minnesota Lynx last Saturday into a Wednesday matinee game against the Dallas Wings at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
Chicago (4-12) snapped a season-long, seven-game home losing streak with the decision.
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“It feels good, it feels really good,” said Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot, who scored a career-high 26 points and tied a career best with 13 assists. “It was a good atmosphere tonight, and it was a good team win. That was the best part about it.”
Chicago was without Cappie Pondexter, sidelined Saturday due to a concussion. Her status for Wednesday was unclear.
Despite the respite brought by the win, the Sky remain a struggling team, ranking next to last in the WNBA in offensive production with an average of 78.1 points per game.
Chicago also gives up the third-most points in the league (84.8 points) and sits 11th among the 12 teams in the WNBA standings.
Guard Allie Quigley leads the Sky and is 11th in WNBA scoring with an average of 16 points.
The Wings (9-10) are at the bottom of the league defensively, giving up an average of 86.6 points per game. However, that deficiency is somewhat offset by a third-ranked offense that averages 84.3 points.
Dallas is coming off a 98-78 loss to Atlanta on Sunday despite 22 points from Skylar Diggins-Smith and 15 from Allisha Gray.
Diggins-Smith remains a big offensive producer for the Wings.
In two games last week against the Dream, she recorded her fifth and sixth 20-point games of the season. She ranks eighth in WNBA scoring with a 17.7-point average.
The Wings have won five of their last seven games but are eighth in the league standings, occupying the final playoff position. However, they are getting little from the third overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, former Kentucky forward Evelyn Akhator.
In part due to an early-season ankle injury, Akhator is averaging less than a point and a rebound per game.
“She’s always working hard on the court but she didn’t understand how hard players were going to hit her and how hard you were going to have to hit other players,” Dallas assistant coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin told the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.
Akhator told the newspaper, “I’m a rookie, so I need to just make it through my rookie season so next year I can be on the floor and just contribute in a way that I know I can contribute on the court.”
Dallas, 4-5 on the road, meets Chicago for the first time this season. The Sky swept the three meetings last year, but the Wings maintain an all-time 18-12 series lead.
Chicago meets the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden on Friday and visits Dallas on Sunday. The Wings are idle until that game.