Epiphanny Prince keyed the Chicago Sky's impressive start and talk of the franchise's first playoff berth. Now they'll try to remain a top contender without her.
In its first game since losing Prince to a broken foot, Chicago visits the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday in a matchup of first-place teams.
A meeting against the defending WNBA champions appeared to be a good test for the surprising Sky (7-2), who are atop the Eastern Conference. However, Chicago suffered a huge blow when Prince fractured her right foot in an 84-70 loss at Indiana last Saturday.
Prince is expected to miss six to eight weeks, leaving the Sky without the league's second-leading scorer. She's averaging 22.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists.
"She has had such a great start to the season," coach Pokey Chatman told the team's official website. "The injury is obviously very disappointing for her and for us. In the meantime, we have a resilient veteran team that will keep us moving forward until we're back at full strength."
The injury could lead to additional playing time for Tamera Young, who made her first start Saturday in place of Ruth Riley. Young grabbed a team-high seven rebounds but was held to three points on 1-of-6 shooting after scoring in double figures in three straight games.
While the Sky look for someone to step up alongside Sylvia Fowles, second on the team with 19.1 points per game after scoring 26 last Saturday, it could be hard to compete with the depth on the Lynx (11-1).
Minnesota bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 102-70 win over New York on Thursday - the second time the Lynx have topped 100 points in a game this year.
Seimonne Augustus scored a season-high 26 points while rookie Devereaux Peters added a career-best 18.
"We wanted to see how we'd bounce back. I think everybody wanted to see it," said Augustus, who scored 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting in Sunday's 65-62 loss to Seattle. "We've had a lack of aggression, but in the second quarter, we showed what we can do."
After trailing 28-17 early in the second quarter, Minnesota went on a 23-6 run. The Lynx finished 10 of 18 from 3-point range and outrebounded the Liberty 49-31, grabbing 16 offensive boards.
Minnesota is the highest-scoring team in the WNBA at 85.2 points per game, with six players averaging at least 8.0. Peters, contributing 6.1 per game, was the latest to step up. She played 19 minutes Thursday, adding six rebounds and two steals.
"Dev's a possession player, she competes," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "And when you compete and you play that hard, great things happen to you. I thought tonight was a great example of that."
Peters may get additional minutes as Jessica Adair deals with a knee injury. Adair has not played the last two games after recording two minutes in her last action against Phoenix on June 15.
Minnesota, which has won 12 straight at home including the playoffs, has won three in a row over Chicago.