Sun-Sky Preview

The Associated PressAugust 27, 2012

The Chicago Sky ended a nine-game slide and moved back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference with a surprising win over the Connecticut Sun.

The Sun will seek a measure of revenge Tuesday night when they face the Sky in the opener of a four-game road stretch, with another opportunity to clinch a playoff spot.

Chicago (9-14) ended its longest losing streak since the franchise's inaugural 2006 season with Sunday's 82-70 victory at Connecticut (17-6). The Sky prevailed despite missing center Sylvia Fowles and forward Tamera Young due to personal reasons.

"This is huge," Sky forward Swin Cash said. "We have been on a skid that none of us are familiar with, and today we were down Syl and down Tamera, and I thought that everyone came in and contributed."

Fowles is second on the team in scoring with 17.6 points per game while leading the league in rebounding with 11.4 per contest. Young, absent due to a death in the family, has started 14 games this season.

It's unclear if either will be back Tuesday.

The Sky moved one-half game ahead of New York for the East's fourth and final playoff spot after the Liberty fell in Seattle on Sunday night. Chicago has never reached the postseason.

New York's defeat also meant that Connecticut would have clinched a playoff spot had it won Sunday. The Sun lead Indiana by 2 1/2 games for the conference's best record.

"It's a disappointing loss for a lot of reasons," coach Mike Thibault said. "We had a chance, with a little help, to clinch a playoff spot and we didn't do it. We just got outplayed in a lot of areas."

Connecticut has split four games since the Olympic break. The Sun have finished with 17 turnovers three times in that span despite averaging 14.3 on the year.

Thibault's club is a league-best 8-2 on the road, and he may be emphasizing defense during this stretch.

"Sometimes you'll have one defensive mistake on a play," guard Kara Lawson said. "We were having three or four on the same possession. We need to improve. We need to get a lot better defensively.''

Epiphanny Prince led Chicago with 15 points Sunday, with Cash and second-year center Carolyn Swords each chipping in 14. Swords' total was a career high as she started in place of Fowles.

"We see (Swords) do that every day in practice, she goes against Sylvia every day, so there is no intimidation factor," coach Pokey Chatman said. "She uses her size well and she is going to be in the right spot."

Connecticut played its fifth straight game without Olympic forward Asjha Jones, sidelined by a strained left Achilles tendon. Allison Hightower, a teammate of Fowles at LSU, had a team-high 17 points Sunday.

Hightower's layup with 8.9 seconds left in overtime lifted the Sun to an 80-78 victory at Chicago on July 13 after Connecticut rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.