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Pokey Chatman’s pep talk ignites sluggish Sky

ROSEMONT IL - JULY 05: SylviFowles #34 Chicago Sky grabs rebound ahead teammate Michelle Snow #2 during WNBA game against

ROSEMONT, IL - JULY 05: Sylvia Fowles #34 of the Chicago Sky grabs a rebound ahead of teammate Michelle Snow #2 during the WNBA game against the Washington Mystics on July 5, 2011 at the All-State Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Updated: July 6, 2011 4:54AM



The Sky didn’t break out of its funk easily.

Like it has throughout the season, the Sky played down to its competition early against the Washington ­Mystics on Tuesday night.

But the Sky used a strong stretch late in the second quarter to pull away and avoid its fourth consecutive loss, beating the short-handed Mystics 78-65 at Allstate Arena.

The Sky (5-6) looked like a pick-up team at times in the first half. The point guards regularly outran their teammates down the court and, without anyone to pass to, turned the ball over. The Sky had nine turnovers and only eight field goals in the first 12 minutes.

But after coach Pokey Chatman called a timeout with 5:52 left in the second quarter, the Sky finally looked like a team ready to play.

Sylvia Fowles led a 16-5 surge to close the half by scoring 10 of her game- and season-high 34 points, and the Mystics never got closer than eight points in the second half. Fowles, who entered the game as the WNBA’s leading scorer at 20.7 points per game, also pulled down a season-high 16 rebounds.

“It wasn’t anything magical, it was just reiterating what had gotten us off to a very nice start,” Chatman said of her timeout speech. “I just reminded them of all the hard work they were putting in, not to give it up with empty possessions on our offensive end.”

The Mystics (2-7) were without two of their best players, Alana Beard and leading scorer Crystal Langhorne.

But the Mystics made sure nothing came easy for the Sky.

Courtney Vandersloot, in particular, looked flustered by the Mystics’ defensive pressure. The rookie point guard committed five turnovers — four in the first half — and had only one assist. Vandersloot left the game briefly in the third quarter with a knee injury, but Chatman said after the game it was nothing serious.

Epiphanny Prince added 14 points for the Sky, and Michelle Snow had seven points and 11 boards. Marissa Coleman led the Mystics with 14 points.

The Sky is back in action Saturday against the Atlanta Dream.



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