The Chicago Sky once seemed to be headed toward their first postseason berth in their seventh season.
Now they are plummeting, and a Chicago native who has tormented them in the past could further dampen their hopes.
Chicago (8-11) started 7-1 before guard Epiphanny Prince injured her foot at Indiana on June 16. The Sky have since dropped 10 of 11, although Prince has been back for both games since the Olympic break.
Her 18 points weren't enough in Sunday's 75-71 overtime loss at last-place Washington. Chicago's six-game skid is its longest since its inaugural 2006 season.
"We have to take from this moment and move on to the next one," center Sylvia Fowles said. "We don't really have time to sob and get into it."
The Sky's downward spiral has brought back memories of their five-game slide to end 2011 as well as a 2-8 swoon to close 2010 that ended their playoff hopes in both seasons. They hold the Eastern Conference's fourth and final postseason spot, with New York (7-13) just 1 1/2 games back.
Pondexter's teams are 16-3 in her career against the Sky. The veteran guard, born in California but raised in Chicago, is averaging 20.5 points against the Sky since joining the Liberty in 2010.
Her 20.1 scoring average this season ranks second in the league behind Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry.
Pondexter surpassed 20 points for a fourth straight game Thursday with 24 in a 79-66 win over East-leading Connecticut, but she had 17 against the Sun two days later in an 85-74 road loss. The Liberty had 26 turnovers in that defeat after committing six Thursday.
"We have to keep our turnovers under 15 to compete with a team like that," coach John Whisenant said.
These teams have split two 2012 meetings, with each winning on the road.
Prince, a former Rutgers star like Pondexter, scored 26 points in the Sky's 73-64 victory June 10. Pondexter led New York with 22.
Chicago didn't have Prince in a 64-59 loss July 6. Pondexter scored a game-high 19 as New York won despite playing without starting frontliners Plenette Pierson (knee and hamstring injuries) and Kia Vaughn (concussion).
Pierson and Vaughn are healthy now and will be out to try to contain Fowles, the league's leading rebounder with 12.2 per game. Fowles averages 17.9 points to rank seventh in the WNBA, but she's turned in two 13-point games since the break.
- Cappie Pondexter
- Epiphanny Prince
- Sylvia Fowles
- Chicago Sky
- New York