Delle Donne scores career-high and Chicago survives Atlanta in overtime, 100-96
Video courtesy of the Chicago Sky.
On “Camp Day” at Allstate Arena in front of thousands of kids, the Chicago Sky (4-3) outlasted the Atlanta Dream (3-6) in overtime, 100-96, propelled by a record-breaking performance from forward Elena Delle Donne.
“We just wanted to win. At this point, being 3-3, we wanted to show that we could be consistent and put two wins together; so, that was the biggest focus,” said Delle Donne who finished with a career-high and franchise record 45 points.
“I think the most important thing is we found a way to win our second overtime game in a row,” said Sky head coach Pokey Chatman, “but also more importantly, at home, protecting our home court. We know the high power, fast play of Atlanta, and I think the thing I was most impressed with was that we stayed in attack mode to the tune of shooting 36 free throws and that’s a mentality because sometimes you get a little bit down defensively and we become tentative. I think it starts with people that have ice water in their veins and are not afraid to take things to the action. I think it carries over. We’re excited about the win. We’ll rest and get ready for Indiana.”
The game marked the second meeting of the season between the Sky and Dream. The Sky fell to the Dream 73-74 in Atlanta on June 19. Atlanta got off to a hot start, scoring many of their early points in transition. Elena Delle Donne kept Chicago in the contest in the first quarter, finishing the quarter with eight points and two blocks.
Chicago started the second quarter on a 9-0 run, led by Cappie Pondexter. Delle Donne led the Sky with 19 first-half points as the Sky led 40-34 at the break.
The Sky led the Dream 69-57 to begin the fourth quarter but Atlanta battled back Matee Ajavon‘s free throws with 3:16 remaining in the fourth quarter gave Atlanta a one point lead, the Dream’s first lead since the end of the first quarter.
McCoughtry hit a lay-up in traffic with eight seconds remaining to tie the game at 86 and force overtime. The Sky gained the lead at 4:19 in overtime and never looked back.
Delle Donne earned her third straight double double of the season with 11 rebounds and also set a new career high with six blocks. She shattered the WNBA mark for most points by a single player through her team’s first seven games of a season with 221 points. The previous record was set by Maya Moore in 2014 with 193 points. She also went 19-for-19 from the free throw line to set the new WNBA record for most consecutive made free throws (previously 17 by Angel McCoughtry at Chicago in June 2014).
Three other Sky players were in double figures: Cappie Pondexter (19 points), Allie Quigley (16 points, 5 rebounds) and Courtney Vandersloot (13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists). Vandersloot fouled out of the game with about two minutes left when the Dream had a one-point lead, 83-82.
McCoughtry led the Dream with a season-high 34 points and 10 rebounds to record her first double double of the season. All five Atlanta starters were in double figures: Sancho Lyttle (15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals), Roneeka Hodges (15 points), Erika de Souza (11 points, 9 rebounds) and Matee Ajavon (10 points). Both Ajavon and Hodges fouled out of the game. Ajavon left the game with six fouls when 50 seconds left in regulation. Hodges fouled out in overtime.
Delle Donne today became only the 5th player in WNBA history with 2+ games of 40-or-more points in her career (the others: Diana Taurasi, 3; Maya Moore, Katie Smith, and Cynthia Cooper, 2 each) and only the 4th player in WNBA history with two (2) games of 40-or-more points in the same season (the others, all with 2 each: Diana Taurasi in 2006; Maya Moore in 2014; Katie Smith in 2001)
Delle Donne’s 19 made free throws tied for second in WNBA history for free throws made in a game with Tina Charles (Connecticut vs. Phoenix, June 29, 2013). Delle Donne has now made 34 consecutive free throws since her last miss on June 14th against the Indiana Fever.
Chicago Sky head coach and general manager Pokey Chatman
(On confidence in team in pressure situations…)
“They work really hard. They’re engaged during the game. As coaches, we get them when they come to the sidelines, but they’re coaching themselves within possessions, and I think that is what separates them offensively. They’re recognizing switches, they’re recognizing actions, so it’s not me feeding stuff to them like their kids.”
Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne
(On her free throw groove…)
“My foul shot is something I’ve worked since probably eighth grade. I changed it in the eighth grade to simplify it so it’s just something I’ve worked on for a really long time. In pressure situations, it’s needed; we couldn’t miss or we’d lose the game. We’re a pretty good foul shooting team and we’ll have to continue to improve.”
(On the physicality of the game…)
“That’s how both teams play; we’re really aggressive teams and with Angel, you know she’s going to make some incredible shots. She plays good defense, she goes for steals and you have to be careful when she’s guarding you. Angel never fails to disappoint, you just try to contain her. Luckily we were able to pull away with the win, but she had a great game.”
(On today’s focus after Angel McCoughtry’s buzzer-beater on June 19th…)
It wasn’t even about who the opponent was or what happened in that last game. We needed a win, and we were desperate for one.”
Chicago Sky guard Cappie Pondexter
(On her adjustment to playing with Elena Delle Donne and the Sky…)
“No adjustment at all. Honestly I think we complement each other very well. I’m on her side, she’s on my side, and I’m going to encourage her to keep going because that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.”
(On the importance of being a leader…)
“It’s important because sometimes you can lose sight in the course of a game where everything is going wrong. We forget how hard we worked the previous quarters, so I just want to be that reminder, that vet that’s actually been in situations like that.”
(On what she has learned about her teammates…)
“They are extremely skilled. They are a smart team, we execute really well. That was already expected. I think our biggest challenge is to continue to grow as a team and to just improve.”
Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper
(On the Dream’s comeback in the 4th quarter…)
“In the 3rd quarter we got away from our defensive principles and what we had been doing to start the game and obviously it’s going to be an up and down game for us right now. We’re still trying to find ourselves a little bit but again I’m very proud of our team and the way we came back playing against a good basketball team. We just came up a little bit short.”
(On the performance of Elena Delle Donne…)
“You’re not going to stop a scorer like that. I thought what we didn’t do was hold the other ones underneath I think Cappie [Pondexter], we let her get some open ones [Allie] Quigley we let get open so those are the players we have to do a better job on. [Elena’s] that type of player to score those types of points. The people that were guarding her I thought did a great job but she’s a great player and she’s going get her share of points.”
(On the Camp Day crowd and the effect of the noise that comes with it…)
“I don’t think the noise affected us at all but it was nice to hear. Kids day is supposed to be exactly what that is about out there I saw the noise meter going up. One time for a moment I saw the official even holding her ears. That’s great for the WNBA and for kids to come out and enjoy this game.”
Atlanta Dream guard Angel McCoughtry
(On the 4th quarter comeback…)
“We dropped the ball inside and they had to come back.”
(On overtime and stopping Delle Donne and Cappie…)
“Rebounds. I think we did a good job on Delle Donne she got half her points. I think they were calling trippy fouls for them. She’s a great player and she is hard to guard but we can’t let a player go run through our defense.”
(On the crowd affecting her game…)
“No, we’re professional. It doesn’t affect me.”
Atlanta Dream forward Sancho Lyttle
(On Atlanta’s fourth quarter spark…)
“We started playing inside out, got some easy buckets in the paint. We started playing harder defense and running. But in overtime we kind of went away from what brought us back in the fourth quarter and end up with a loss”
(On guarding Delle Donne…)
“I think that is nothing you can prepare for, if I really set my mind, you can right it, but you know she is a good player, she can shoot and we just have to respect that and don’t make anybody else score. If she scored 50 points and they’ve got 50 points on the board at the end of the game, and we win, so be it.”
Points in the Paint: Dream 52, Sky 26
Second Chance Points: Dream 17, Sky 9
Fastbreak Points: Dream 17, Sky 14
Biggest Lead: Dream 7, Sky 17
Lead Changes: 8
Times Tied: 5