ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Epiphanny Prince had 17 points and a career-high nine assists and Courtney Vandersloot scored 15 points to lead the Chicago Sky to an 85-74 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night.
Sylvia Fowles, who played sparingly in a loss to Indiana on Saturday due to a leg injury, finished with 14 points and nine rebounds to help the Sky (10-16) win for just the second time in 13 games. Swin Cash and Shay Murphy added 13 points and Tamera Young scored 11.
“To have everybody contribute in their own way means a lot and it shows what we can do when we play together,” Fowles said. “We know what we are capable of, we go up against each other every day in practice. … It felt good to go out there and get a win where everyone contributed and excelled.”
The Sky pulled into a tie with New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and visit the Liberty in their next game on Friday night.
“We just have to lock in and focus and be ready for whatever they throw at us,” Fowles said of the upcoming game against New York. “We need to look at some of the things we did well and some of the things we didn’t do well and go from there.”
Kristi Toliver had 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting and Alana Beard scored 16 for the Sparks (19-8), who fell three games behind first-place Minnesota in the Western Conference. Candice Parker, who grew up in nearby Naperville, Ill., had 15 points and nine rebounds, and rookie Nneka Ogwumike scored 11 points.
“They were really aggressive and really asserted themselves with aggressive play,” Los Angeles coach Carol Ross said. “I thought they did a terrific job defensively. It was very hard for us to run our offense and get good looks. Their hands were quick and we turned the ball over way too many times.”
Prince hit a 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining to extend the Sky’s lead to 77-66. She made three 3s as Chicago finished 7 for 16 (44 percent) from beyond the arc and 50 percent (32 for 64) from the field overall. Vandersloot made six free throws in the final 1:04 as the Sky won after rallying from a 12-point deficit in the first half.
“We defended the floor — that made the biggest difference,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “(The Sparks are) a team that’s second in the league in scoring. They average 83, 84 points a game. On the other end of the floor, we had six people in double figures and 25 assists on 32 baskets, so we shared the basketball. We really took advantage and stretched the court, scored in transition, attacked the basket, and got to the free throw line.”
Los Angeles committed 19 turnovers and shot 45 percent (28 for 62) from the field and made 5 of 16 3-pointers. The Sparks have lost two in a row after a nine-game winning streak.
Chicago trailed 43-33 at halftime but outscored the Sparks 27-13 in the third quarter to take a 60-56 lead. The Sparks led by 12 points in the period, but Chicago cut the margin to 52-50 after Vandersloot scored seven consecutive points.
“The easiest thing to do at halftime was identify the 10-point margin,” Chatman said. “That gave them immediate ownership. We just went back to the game plan of some of the things were trying to do so they wouldn’t lose confidence in what they were doing right.”
The Sky went ahead 57-56 — their first lead since midway through the first quarter — after Cash’s layup with 47.6 seconds remaining in the third.
Prince hit a 3 with 20 seconds remaining for the four-point lead.
Cash also had nine boards as Chicago outrebounded Los Angeles 34-28. The Sky were without Ticha Penicheiro, who sat out after pulling her hamstring Saturday. Vandersloot started in her place.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.