Sky moves into 1st behind Elena Delle Donne’s 23 points
By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer July 18, 2013 12:26PM
NEWARK, N.J. — Rookie Elena Delle Donne scored 23 points and the Chicago Sky routed the New York Liberty 75-55 in a matinee game on Thursday.
The win gave Chicago sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. It’s the latest that the Sky (11-4) have been in first since the team came into the WNBA in 2006. Chicago is still looking for its first trip to the postseason.
The Sky did it without starting center Sylvia Fowles, who missed the game after aggravating a right ankle sprain in Chicago’s win over Connecticut last week.
Chicago jumped all over the Liberty, building a 13-0 lead early in the game and never looked back.
Plenette Pierson and Kelsey Bone each scored 11 points to lead New York (6-9), which has dropped five of its last six games.
The Sky’s early run started with a 3-pointer by Delle Donne. Chicago made five of its six 3-pointers in the quarter and led 34-11.
It was the second straight game that Chicago got off to a strong start. The Sky had the first 12 against Connecticut last Friday before cruising in that game.
Chicago, which has five straight wins against New York, cooled off in the second quarter. The Sky missed 12 of its first 13 shots, but New York could only close to 41-25 at halftime.
The Sky put the game away in the third quarter as Delle Donne had seven points in a 13-3 burst to open the period. Her deep 3-pointer from the wing made it 54-28 with 6:23 left in the quarter.
The Liberty couldn’t get within 19 the rest of the game.
Shay Murphy scored 12 points for Chicago and Carolyn Swords, who started in place of Fowles, added a season-high 12 points. She also had five steals.
It’s been a disappointing four-game homestand for the Liberty. They were blown out in three of their games, including twice by Chicago. New York heads on the road for a pivotal four-game stretch that begins against the Sky on Saturday.
New York is tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference with a rapidly improving Indiana team.
The Liberty have played well in stretches, but coach Bill Laimbeer has been concerned about his team giving up one really bad quarter each game. On Thursday, it came in the first and they never recovered.
Despite the morning tipoff, the game had a boisterous atmosphere with thousands of local camp kids waving and pounding thundersticks. The kids cheered even with the home team down by nearly 30 points in the fourth quarter.