Guru's WNBA Report: Delle Donne's Homecoming Becomes Another Win At Delaware
Also look at longtime Wilmington News Journal Delaware sportswriter Kevin Tresolini's coverage at Delawareonline.com of Tuesday's preseason game until the Guru does a quick re-charge. The Guru will be back in this space early Wednesday afternoon.
DELLE DONNE SHINES IN DELAWARE HOMECOMING
NEWARK – The Chicago Sky defeated the Washington Mystics 76-69 inside the sold out Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware on Tuesday night. From the moment the ball was tipped the crowd was electric and the Sky were in attack mode.
Chicago grabbed the lead scoring the first basket of the game and never trailed the remainder of the first half. Former Colonial Athletic Association standouts Elena Delle and Tamera Young started the game feeling right at home at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center (Bob).
Elena Delle Donne, who has played at the "Bob" since eight grade, scored seven points early on, including the first two points of the game, to help the Sky jump out to a 17-6 lead in the first six minutes of play.
Tamera Young, who played at the "Bob" frequently when she was at James Madison University was able to deliver a quick four points as well.
At one point early in the second quarter the Sky led by as many as 16 points. The Mystics simply could not figure out a way to stop the Sky's balance scoring. After struggling from the field against the Lynx on Sunday afternoon in Orlando, Chicago was more assertive on the offensive end. In the first half the Sky scored 22 points in the paint and did not attempt a single shot beyond the three-point arch.
"I think we really wanted to focus on our start because we struggled in the first quarter of the last game," said Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot. "I think just attacking and getting to the free throw line really gave us a good boost and set the tone for the rest of the game."
Courtney Vandersloot had started the game with an attack mentality and turned in an early eight points and five assists to help the Sky stretch the lead to 31-18 midway through the second quarter. With the Sky's offense clicking on all cylinders the Mystics were unable to find any kind of rhythm in the first half. The Sky had eight assists in the first half to take the lead 41-33 going into the locker room.
Vandersloot and Delle Donne showed off their offensive chemistry to start the third quarter.
"She (Delle Donne) is a point guard's dream," said Vandersloot. "You can give her the ball at any time and she's going to be successful."
Vandeerlsoot opened the quarter with a thread the needle pass to set up Delle Donne in stride to score in transition.
On the ensuing possession the dynamic duo used a series of passes back-and-forth to freeze the Mystic defenders allowing Vandersloot to knock in a wide-open shot on the right wing. Vandersloot finished the game with a career-high 11 assists and 15 points to record her first double double of the year.
Washington's veteran backcourt of Ivory Latta and Kara Lawson slowly plugged away at the Sky's lead in the third quarter. With three minutes left in the third quarter Latta had 15 points and Monique Currie hit a three-pointer at the top of the key to tie the game 49-49.
With 1:36 left in the third quarter the Mystics took their first lead of the game. The two teams battle back and forth to close the quarter with eight lead changes before Delle Donne knocked down a fade-away jumper as time expired on the clock to regain the lead 57-56 heading into the fourth.
Sky forward Jessica Breland had a breakthrough performance and stepped up at key moments to help the Sky close the game. She finished the game with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
The game was kept within four points through an exciting fourth quarter before Delle Donne sank a shot inside the lane to put the Sky up five with 31.9 seconds remaining.
Washington called a timeout and Kayla Thornton answered with a two point basket to pull the Mystics back to within three points. Chicago inbounded the ball to Vandersloot who was immediately fouled and knocked down two free throws.
The Mystics hurried down the court to try for a quick two but Delle Donne met Tierra Ruffin-Pratt at the rim to defend her home court and the secure a Chicago Sky victory in front of the Delaware faithful. Delle Donne finished the game with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
"It was nice to see us get a lead, lose it, get a lead, lose it and respond to some things," said Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman. "For us the biggest thing I liked was the fact that we were plus 16 on the boards."
The Sky outrebounded the Mystics 46-28. The Chicago Sky will look to continue their dominance on the boards and momentum from tonight's victory as they begin their ninth season as a member of the WNBA's Eastern Conference on Friday, May 16, 2014 against the Indiana Fever.
The game features a rematch of last year's playoff series and one of the most-storied Eastern Conference rivalries. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. CT at Allstate Arena. The game will broadcast on The U Too.
Chicago Sky 76, Washington Mystics 69
Bob Carpenter Center (University of Delaware)
May 13, 2014
. Courtney Vandersloot delivered a career-high 11 assists. She now has 485 career assists and will need 22 more assists to take over as the Sky's all-time assists leader.
· Two Sky players recorded double doubles. Elena Delle Donne finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds while Courtney Vandersloot contributed 15 points to go with her 11 assists.
· The Sky did not have a three-point field goal attempt during the first half and only shot one three-pointer during the entire game.
· With 46 rebounds the Sky tied their single-game record for most total rebounds. The last time the Sky recorded 46 rebounds was on June 9, 2013 against Connecticut.
· Forward Jessica Breland had a breakout performance with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
· The Sky led by 16 points at one point during the game and led the entire first half.
· Tonight's game featuring the Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics was the first-ever WNBA game played in Delaware.
Chicago Sky Guard/Forward Elena Delle Donne
(On what she felt coming into tonight's game...)
"These fans are so awesome. It was exciting. Obviously you're a little nervous you want to put on a good show for everybody but it was still an incredible night."
(On what she wants to do this season to build off last season…)
"As you can see we're a brand new team. We don't have many returners so I really need to be a leader this season for the team. Pokey and I have really been talking about that…to just be more of a vocal leader. Obviously I try to lead by example but the vocal part is going to come like it did at Delaware."
(On the Delaware faithful…)
"I don't know how they still remember me so well (laughter). I guess I'm doing well with social media and keeping them involved. They're so phenomenal and I'm seeing faces that I saw in eighth grade and it's incredible that they've followed me this long."
Chicago Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman
(On her experience in Delaware…)
"The minute we planted the seed to come here everyone has just been so welcoming…It's just nice to see everything come to fruition."
(On pulling out the close-margin victory…)
"It was nice to see us get a lead, lose it, get a lead, lose it and respond to some things. For us the biggest thing I liked was the fact that we were plus 16 on the boards."
(On the feeling inside the Bob Carpenter Center tonight…)
"It was fun…It was just nice obviously for both teams…a great environment."
Chicago Sky Guard Courtney Vandersloot
(On mindset going into tonight's game in Delaware…)
"I think we really wanted to focus on our start because we struggled in the first quarter of the last game and I think just attacking and getting to the free throw line just really gave us a good boost and set the tone for the rest of the game."
(On her on-court chemistry with Elena Delle Donne…)
"She is a point guard's dream. You can give her the ball anytime and she's going to be successful."
(On what the team will take from this win heading into Friday's regular season opener…)
"It gave us one of those grind-out win games. We were a little bit inconsistent but we got stops when we needed to and that's huge. Making plays down the stretch to keep the lead was huge too and to get that experience heading into the regular season will help us."
Chicago Sky Forward Jessica Breland
(On finding her rhythm in tonight's game…)
"I was just attacking and not thinking about things, just playing. I think I'm getting more comfortable with the team. They believe and I believe in myself as well."
(The biggest asset she can bring to this team…)
"Bringing more length to the team, energy and just the 'glue stuff.' The stuff that doesn't really show up on the stats sheet but that something that could really glue a team together."
Washington Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault
(On his team's performance tonight…)
"I'm very disappointed with the start by our starters. I'm very disappointed with our rebounding. If we don't start getting better on the boards we're going to struggle. It's been a point of emphasis the last couple of days but it didn't make it better.
We've got to decide on a post rotation and who is going to rebound the ball and go after it. I think that's going to make or break our season and people know it and they're going to go after us."
Washington Mystics Guard Ivory Latta
(On her thoughts following tonight's loss…)
"I think we played well down the stretch. The second half was much better defensively. We definitely need to rebound the ball way better than we did the first three preseason games and I definitely know coach is going to correct that in practice."
Guru's quick add: Delle Donne said she saw the same faces she has scene since eighth grade playing in the Bob Carpenter Center.
Will be back in a few hours.
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