By Demetrius Dillard/The Sports Pulse
BRADENTON, Fla. — Two pivotal late-game plays by forward Cheyenne Parker helped the Chicago Sky edge the Washington Mystics, 88-86, on Saturday.
The Sky (3-1) had five players score in double digits for a constant balanced attack on offense. Parker finished with 16 points and six rebounds, Gabby Williams recorded 16 points, nine boards and four assists, and Allie Quigley scored 15.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Quigley scored a layup that gave the Sky an 84-83 advantage. The Mystics’ Aerial Powers made 1 of 2 free throws on the next possession to tie the game.
Parker converted a left-hand layup, and Washington’s Ariel Atkins responded with two made free throws to tie it again at 86.
On the ensuing possession, Parker drove baseline and dished it off to Diamond DeShields for a layup to give Chicago an 88-86 lead with 5.9 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout with 5.6 seconds left on the game clock, Atkins inbounded the ball to Emma Meesseman, who looked for Leilani Mitchell in the corner. Instead, her pass intercepted by Courtney Vandersloot as time expired. The Mystics fall to 3-1 with the loss.
Washington Coach Mike Thibault said his team’s turnovers (14) were “unbelievably costly” but also hinted that fatigue might have played a factor.
“I think we’re tired. Our depth is tough,” Thibault said. “We played tired at times. I’m glad we have the three days off right now to kind of regroup. Playing short-handed is hard. Chicago is good, but we could’ve been better.”
The game was back-and-forth with 10 ties and eight lead changes. At the end of the first, Washington trailed 20-15 but then led by two points (37-35) at halftime.
Mitchell scored 10 of her 12 points for the Mystics in the third quarter, but Chicago outscored Washington 27-25 to tie the game, 62-62, entering the fourth.
The Sky’s offensive fluidity worked to their advantage late in the game as they tallied 10 assists in the fourth while forcing four turnovers to clinch the win.
“This is a great team (Chicago) who loves to run out in transition, and once they got their shots going, it’s kind of hard to stop,” said Myisha Hines-Allen, who was the only double-double performer with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“Our defense wasn’t all there today. We didn’t have each other’s backs like we normally did, so I mean — we just didn’t play Mystics basketball today for the whole game. I think that’s what it boils down to.”
Atkins led the way again with a game-high 24 points for the Mystics while Powers registered 20 points and seven rebounds. Meesseman led Washington with six assists.
After a three-day break, the Mystics will try to bounce back when they square off against the Las Vegas Aces on Aug. 5 at 8 p.m.