WASHINGTON (AP) Sylvia Fowles had 23 points and 12 rebounds and helped key a 29-8 first-half run in the Chicago Sky’s 69-57 victory over the Washington Mystics on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
Epiphanny Prince scored 13 of her 16 points in the first half, and Swin Cash added 14 points in her first game for the Sky.
Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 16 points. Monique Currie, who missed all but four games last season because of a knee injury, added 14 points.
Chicago led by 15 points in the first half and 38-25 at halftime, but Washington opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run and pulled to 52-45 on Jasmine Thomas’ basket late in the third quarter. The Mystics would get no closer as the Sky opened the fourth quarter on a 14-5 run, capped by Cash’s second 3-pointer.
”We still have some wrinkles we have to straighten out, but this was a good start and definitely a test for us to see what we were made of,” said Fowles, the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Dating to last season, the Mystics have lost five straight games and 14 of 15.
The Sky swept four games from the Mystics last season.
”I was not anticipating us coming out on the court with this type of effort,” Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession. The Mystics committed 23 turnovers - 16 in the first half - that led to 25 points for the Sky. Chicago finished with 21 turnovers.
”Decisions, passes, simple things like pass and catch the basketball. I would expect players with experience who have been in the league to make better decision than we did early on,” Lacey said.
The Mystics hit their first three shots for a 6-0 lead, prompting Sky coach Pokey Chatman to call for a timeout with only 59 seconds elapsed. Chicago countered with six consecutive points of its own, took the lead for good at 9-8 on Cash’s free throw and led 18-12 after the first quarter.
Another quick six points started the second quarter for the visitors and Prince’s driving layup with 5:47 left in the half gave the Sky their largest lead at 31-16.
”It just went bad. Just a lot of turnovers, indecisiveness, not knowing where your teammates were going to be,” Langhorne said. ”Some were just bad plays. All the turnovers we had really killed us.”
Both teams failed to qualify for the Eastern Conference postseason last year, and both significantly revamped their rosters accordingly.
The Sky’s moves included acquiring three-time All-Star Cash in a trade with Seattle and signing free-agent center Ruth Riley. Washington returned only four players, including Langhorne and guard Matee Ajavon.
”I’m excited about the new faces that we have on the team, but at the same time it’s still Chicago, nothing has changed,” said Fowles, who has spent her entire five-year career with the Sky. ”Once we make it to the playoffs, that’s when I’ll be like it was worth it.”