Sky Fall In Game 1 of Eastern Conference Semi-Finals
By Joseph Phillips
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Indiana Fever defeated the Chicago Sky 85-72 in their first ever playoff game in franchise history on Friday night at All State Arena. Before tip-off, both teams had several players who were honored by the WNBA for their hard work both on and off the
For the Sky, Elena Delle Donne was awarded the 2013 WNBA Rookie of The Year Award, Sylvia Fowles would take home the WNBA Defensive Player of The Year Award and Swin Cash was a Co-Recipient for the Sportsman of the Year Award. For
the Fever, Tamika Catchings also was the Co-Recipient for the Sportsman of the Year Award and Shavonte Zellous was honored with the WNBA Most Improved Player Award.
In the first quarter, the Sky would jump out to an early lead,
thanks in part to their two award recipients Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles for draining two- free-throws and a sky-hook giving them their largest lead of the game at 4-0.
"We were able to exploit the mismatch in the first half, and I
think they were seeing that switching the point guard on me wasn't the right thing to do.” said Elena Delle Donne, who’d finish the quarter with 12 points.
“I was able to get to the block and get some and-ones too.
Obviously, I have to attack more the entire game, not just the first and second quarter so that's something I need to clean up." said Delle Donne.
In the last 8 minutes of the quarter, the Fever would match
the Sky basket for basket, finishing up 3 at
In the second quarter, the Fever sharp defense hounded the Sky,
holding them to a playoff low 46.4% from the field in the first half compared to a scorching 56% by the Fever. The two teams were in a battle at the three-point line, but the hot shooting by Fever guard Karima Christmas, nailing 6 of 9 from the 3 point arc gave her team the lead at 50-37.
In the second half, the Sky returned to the court hungry, putting
pressure on the Fever, draining their second “and one” with 6:42 left in the third quarter by Epiphanny Prince. This play would ignite the crowd as the Sky begin to close the gap. Despite of the run by the Sky, the shots continued to fall for the Fever. The Sky finished the quarter trailing 58-72.
Chicago fought back from their largest deficit of 19 but could
not break past the 12-point deficit barrier to gain the lead. The Sky and Fever were both held to their lowest quarter point total with 14 and 13 respectively to finish the game.
Delle Donne wrapped up the first Sky playoff match up as the game leader with 20 points and four rebounds. Prince followed with 19 points, going 7-for-7 from the field. Fowles hit a double-double taking down 10 rebounds and offering 16 points.
The Fever were led by Shavonte Zellous with 20 points. Erlana
Larkins had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sky will face the Indiana Fever for Game 2 of the Eastern
Conference Semifinals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday September 22. The 2 p.m. CT game will air nationally on ESPN2.
Dr. Candice Elaine Brooks
Dream Pounce Mystics in Game 2
BY: DR. CANDICE ELAINE BROOKS
Returning back to Washington D.C. after a commanding Thursday road win in Atlanta and celebrating Coach Mike Thibault’s recent selection as the 2013 WNBA Coach of the Year, the Washington Mystics may have begun celebrations a little too early as Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream pounced the Mystics on the road, 63-45, in Game 2 of the first round of the WNBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. The series is now tied 1-1 in a best of three first round match-up.
“I felt that our young ladies stepped up tonight…we just felt that we needed to come out with more energy…It’s about the will to box out and go to the boards,” said Atlanta Dream Coach Fred Williams.
Conversely, Mystics Coach Thibault commented.
“We were our own worst enemy. When you miss the lay ups we missed and you miss free throws…it…piles up on you.”
Poor rebounding, free throws, and field goal shooting were the thorns in the backs of Thibault’s Mystics. As a team, the Mystics shot 25% from the field, made 13 of 24 free throws, and only snatched down 30 total rebounds. In comparison, the Dream shot 35% from the field, made 11 of 14 free throws, and pulled down 53 rebounds.
Mystics point guard Ivory Latta responded to her team’s Game 2 loss.
“We just have to regroup—focus [and] just get back to the little things, get back to the basics, get back to thinking about how we won the first game and what it’s really going to take.”
It was a stagnant start for both teams as Angel McCoughtry scored the game’s first two points with a running layup two minutes into the first quarter. The Mystics were held scoreless and down 0-7 until Matee Ajavon nailed a fade-away jumper five minutes into the game. The Dream outscored the Mystics 10-2 in made buckets in the paint and overall, successfully dictated the pace of the game scoring seven out of their total 17 first quarter points from fast break points.
McCoughtry commented on Atlanta’s Game 2 mindset.
“We wanted to…come out aggressive and not let them stomp on us…We wanted to be the ones that come out, take the force, and we came out with a great start and carr[ied] it through the game.”
McCoughtry finished the first quarter with 11 points, two assists, and two rebounds. The Dream closed the first quarter up 17-9.
The Mystics were out hustled, outrebounded, and outscored 19-12 in the second quarter. With a 3-13 winning record when down at halftime, the game’s outcome did not look promising as Washington trailed the Dream 21-36 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Mystics failed to capitalize off of a foul ridden and cautious-playing McCoughtry who was later benched at the six minute mark. Mystics center Kia Vaughn scored her first two points of the game half way through the third quarter. Two Tayler Hill three-pointers and hustle play by the Mystics’ second string line-up pulled the team to within 10 points at the end of the third quarter, 36-46.
McCoughtry, Tiffany Hayes, and fellow Dream teammates crushed any and all Mystics momentum in the fourth quarter. The Dream outscored the Mystics 17-9 in the quarter and dominated points in the paint for the game, 36-to-14.
Mystics Crystal Langhorne reflected on the loss.
“We couldn’t score and we missed a lot of free throws in the second half…it’s about who’s playing harder. I think they denied a little bit harder, boxed out harder. It just comes down to who wanted it more.”
Mystics’ team captain, Ivory Latta expressed confidence in her team going forward.
“We’ll be fine. I have faith in the girls that are in the locker room, the coaches and everybody. I just know we’ll get down there and we’ll get back to playing Mystics basketball.”
Final score: Mystics 45, Dream 63.
The Mystics chalked up a season-low of 45 points and only dished out eight assists as a team. Their bench outscored the starting line-up with 29 of the team’s total 45 points. Tayler Hill led her teammates with 11 points and fellow rookies Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Emma Meesseman each contributed eight points.
WNBA leading scorer, Angel McCoughtry, finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Erika DeSouza posted her 19th double-double of the 2013 season with 11 points and 15 rebounds. Teammate Aneika Henry also posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Recap the game’s Twitter feed at #MysticsPlayoffs.
Game 3 of the first round of the WNBA Eastern Conference playoff series between the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream will take place Monday, September 23 in the Philips Arena at 8pm (Eastern Time). It will be televised on NBA TV. The Mystics hope to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2002. The defending 2013 WNBA champions, Indiana Fever, patiently wait to find out who they play in Game 1 of the WNBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals—day and time to be announced.
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