Fourth-quarter fade halts Dream in loss to Sky

After wilting late at Washington on Friday, the Dream said they lacked energy in part because of a busy schedule. Returning home, where they had lost one game all season, offered the Dream a chance to find a spark.

But it also meant a matchup with the Chicago Sky, whose lead over the Dream in the Eastern Conference was 3 1/2 games entering Saturday. They added another game to their advantage in the standings with a 67-56 victory Saturday.

The Dream trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half. They cut that deficit to two points twice before fading in the fourth quarter again.

“We got some pretty good shots, but we’ve just got to get some of them to go down,” Dream coach Fred Williams said. “That’s a long team to shoot over.”

Defense has been a problem for the Dream lately, but they held the Sky to 36 percent shooting from the field. It didn’t matter because the Dream squandered too many possessions, especially in transition, while committing 22 turnovers that Chicago converted into 31 points.

Sky rookie forward Elena Delle Donne scored a game-high 25 points. Dream forward Angel McCoughtry, the league’s leading scorer, had 20 points, but was 6-of 26 from the field and matched her season high with seven turnovers.

“More than anything we wanted to see how we stacked up,” Delle Donne said. “We left here with a bad taste last time (88-74 Dream victory), so we wanted to redeem ourselves.”

The Dream lost 76-64 at Washington in the Friday game. That was the Dream’s second-lowest scoring total of the season.

“I thought we just came out with no energy today,” McCoughtry said after the game. “It’s been tough. We’ve been playing a lot of games. It’s just one of those things that you have to find a way to dig deep.”

The Dream had to try do it again against the Sky after another sluggish start. They rallied in the third quarter with some energetic play from their reserves.

Courtney Clements made two 3-pointers as part of the 11-2 run. Alex Bentley’s steal and three-point play and two free throws by McCoughtry trimmed Chicago’s lead to 41-39.

The Sky pushed the lead back to 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Dream kept coming. Bentley had another steal and layup to pull the Dream within 55-51.

The Sky answered with baskets from Courtney Vandersloot, Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash to lead 61-51 with less than four minutes left. Chicago finished off the Dream with free throws.

The Dream started 2-of-9 from the field with five turnovers as Chicago ran out to a 17-6 lead and extended it to 28-12 early in the second quarter. The Dream had 11 turnovers and only five field goals at that point.

The Dream also had trouble handling Delle Donne, the league’s leading scorer among rookies. She made six of her first eight field-goal attempts on a variety of moves around the basket, along the baseline and in transition.

Dream guard Armintie Herrington left the game after suffering a head injury and did not return. Delle Donne landed on Herrington as they went for a loose ball.

The Dream opened the season with a 10-1 record, but are 4-10 since then. A road-heavy schedule and injuries to starting forward Sancho Lyttle and top reserve Tiffany Hayes contributed to the slide.

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