Cash leads team effort as Sky break losing streak, upset first place Sun 82-70
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – As they introduced the lineup for the Chicago Sky, as is customary for returning former Connecticut players, Swin Cash received a rousing ovation from the fans.
By the end of the game, when the Sky had come from behind for a convincing 82-70 victory, you could hear moans every time her name was announced from the 8,300 people in attendance.
Cash poured in all 14 of her points in the second half, including 10 in a third quarter that saw the Sky erase the Sun’s 43-39 halftime lead. She led a balanced attack as the Sky, despite the absences of Sylvia Fowles and Tamera Young, snapped a nine-game losing streak that dated back to before the Olympic break.
Chicago coach Pokey Chatman was obviously thrilled with the second half performance of the Sky.
“We had to make some adjustments and move some people around and it was nice to see us execute down the stretch.”
Of the nine players the Sky dressed, eight had at least six points, with Epiphanny Prince scoring a team high 15. Prince appeared to have more confidence in her ability to get shots off, as she still recovers from an ankle injury.
Carolyn Swords, pressed into her first career start with Fowles missing, scored 14 in front of a number of the former Boston College stars family and friends.
“I’m just really proud of this team and we were really focused on this game and my teammates have done a really great job of encouraging me and getting me in the right spot,” the center said. “I was excited to be playing in front of my family and friends and it was an exciting game and I’m happy we won.”
The Sun struggled handling the Sky zone defense, and the absence of injured Asjha Jones was felt perhaps more than any previous game, as they were outrebounded by the Sky by a resounding 38-26 margin, including a 13-2 difference in the fourth quarter.
It was not just one player doing the damage for Chicago on the boards, as five different players, including guards Ticha Penichiero and Sonja Petrovic each had at least five rebounds.
Courtney Vandersloot ran the point to near perfection in the second half as well for the Sky, dishing out eight of her career high 11 assists, while also picking the Sun’s pockets for three of her four steals (which tied her career high) as well.
Sun coach Mike Thibault was disappointed the Sun failed to win their last home game before departing on a four-game road trip, which begins Tuesday night against the Sky once again. The Sun has already lost four games at home this season, after losing only two all of last year.
“It’s very disappointing especially because it was a home game,” said Thibault. “We’re getting ready to start our longest road trip of the season and we certainly would have liked to be going on the trip with some momentum, but we’re not. Hopefully we can learn from it. The good thing about is we get to go right back out and play them again on Tuesday in Chicago, and we get another opportunity to get a win against them.”
The bright spot for the Sun was the continued outstanding play by Allison Hightower, who seems to get more and more confident with each game. Hightower scored a team high 17 points on 7-for 11 shooting, including 2-of 4 three-point attempts. She added five assists and three rebounds as well. Kara Lawson had 16 for the Sun, and Tina Charles 15 points.
For Chicago, this was the first of eight straight games against teams either currently in the playoffs, or fighting for a spot, including two more with Connecticut and three with Western Conference leaders Minnesota and Los Angeles.