THE CHICAGO SKY NABBED A CRUCIAL WIN ON THE DREAM’S HOME COURT
Friday’s playoff match featured our Atlanta Dream hosting the Chicago Sky. The last time they hosted the Sky was at McCamish Pavilion and the game went down to the wire. The Dream ended up losing by single digits (after trailing most of the game) but another key factor was Elena Delle Donne was injured. This is sure to be a good game and a tough series for the Dream.
The game started just as we expected: physical, fast, and a lot of defense. As we mentioned before, Delle Donne didn’t play in the last meeting because of injury. She wasted little time making her presence known scoring all of the Sky’s 7 points in the first 6 minutes. If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s a 6’5” Guard/Forward that’s extremely agile. But that wasn’t too much for the Dream to handle as their ball distribution well-balanced. 4 out of the 5 starters registered points before the end of the 1st Quarter with Tiffany Hayes and Angel McCoughtry leading with 4 points-a-piece. With 2 minutes left in the 1st Quarter it was showtime! Shoni Schimmel was subbed into the game to a thunderous applause. She made an immediate impact with an assist to McCoughtry. By the end of the 1st the Dream led 23-18.
The 2nd Quarter showed more dominance by the Dream but a sign of worry came when Tiffany Hayes came up grabbing her knee after a collision. She was eventually subbed off the floor but, if she doesn’t return that would be a huge part of the Dream offense missing. The 1st Half ended with a dominant showing by Elena Delle Donne with 14 points (team high) and Epiphanny Prince with 7. Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 11 points while Aneika Henry trailing close behind with 9.
About mid-way through the 3rd Quarter the Sky found their rhythm and made the game level 48-48. Delle Donne was still leading the charge for the Sky (with 21 points) but McCoughtry was keeping the Dream in the mix. Aneika Henry went 5/6 in shooting and made a free-throw for 11 points.
By the start of the 4th every member of the Dream had put up at least 5 points. With the score still so close it looked like it was going to be another nail-biter for the Dream (like their last meeting with the Sky). Courtney Vandersloot was shooting much better this half totaling 16 points while shooting 2/2 in 3-pt attempts. Within a minute there were 4 lead changes and the Sky eventually took a full timeout. At this time the score was 69-68, with the Sky leading. With 4 minutes left there was still time for both teams to run a few plays.
With 2 minutes left the Dream found themselves down by 3 points. That’s when Angel McCoughtry got the crowd off their feet and nailed a 3-pointer from downtown to tie the game. With under 2 minutes to go and time dwindling, Angel McCoughtry came through in the clutch and nailed a jumper to bring their lead to 77-75.
With 17 seconds left things fell apart for the Dream. At the foul line, Vandersloot went 1 for 2 bringing the lead up to 3 points (80-77). After the last free throw was deliberately missed, the Dream couldn’t get the ball downcourt fast enough as time expired.
So the final score was the Atlanta Dream 77, Chicago Sky 80. Game 2 will be played tonight (Sunday) August 24 in Chicago.
Photo: X, Hakim Wright