The Chicago Sky have been playing the part of potential championship contenders in the early going of the WNBA season. The challenge Tuesday night is avoiding a letdown as they face the Dallas Wings.
The Sky (3-1), who have taken a "win-or-bust" mentality to the wubble in Orlando, burnished their credentials with an 88-86 victory over defending WNBA champion Washington on Saturday. Cheyenne Parker scored a go-ahead basket with 5.6 seconds to play, and Courtney Vandersloot preserved the victory with a steal on the Mystics' ensuing possession.
Parker and Gabby Williams scored 16 points apiece to pace five players in double figures for Chicago, which shot 12 of 25 from 3-point range and also got eight assists from Vandersloot. Diamond DeShields, who continues to play her way back into game shape while recovering from a knee injury, had her best game with 10 points off the bench - and the Sky outscored the Mystics by 22 points during her 23-plus minutes.
"They're (Washington) championship team," Sky coach James Wade said. "No matter who they put on the floor, in part because they have a championship coaching staff and they have a championship culture. So you just have to be ready to play. We challenged each other just to have more energy coming into the game and I think we did from beginning to the end. And we didn't expect it to be easy so it came down to the final seconds and we were able to execute one more play more than them."
Williams and Allie Quigley combined to go 7 for 11 from beyond the arc, and the Sky are second in the league in 3-pointers made (38) and third in 3-point shooting percentage (37.6). They are fourth in the league in scoring at 88.3 points per game.
Dallas (2-2) failed to start fast Sunday night, losing to Las Vegas 79-70. The Wings fell behind 15-2 in the first 4:14 of the contest and came as close as 44-40 early in the third quarter before the Aces responded with an 18-8 burst to put the game out of reach.
Arike Ogunbowale scored 20 points, but rookie Satou Sabally was the only other player in double figures with 10 as Dallas shot 4 of 30 (13.3 percent) from 3-point range and 36.8 percent overall. Sabally, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, has averaged 14.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds through her first four games.
"I've been playing more aggressive, (and) it helped me more on the offensive than on the defensive end," Sabally told the Dallas Morning News.
While the Wings have given up 73 or more points in all four games, coach Brian Agler saw things to be positive about on that end of the court. He noted the poor shooting led to Dallas being in constant defensive transition, and "to only give up 79 points ... it's a pretty solid defensive effort."
Dallas avoided a season sweep by Chicago last year with an 88-83 victory in the most recent matchup as Ogunbowale matched a season high with 35 points and dished out six assists.