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Delle Donne scores 24 points and Sky dominates Fever 98-72

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Delle Donne scores 24 points and Sky dominates Fever 98-72

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Elena Delle Donne scored 24 points — her lowest output of the season — with nine rebounds and the Chicago Sky dominated the Indiana Fever 98-72 on Sunday.

Delle Donne's first 3-pointer put Chicago (2-2) up 9-2 and the Sky never trailed. She was 10 of 11 from the line. Cappie Pondexter scored 15 points, Courntey Vandersloot had 14 and Clarissa Dos Santos added 12. Betnijah Laney and Jamierra Faulkner had 11 and 10, respectively.

The Sky held a 19-rebound advantage, had seven steals and 10 blocked shots, limiting Indiana to 31 percent shooting for the game and just 5 of 25 from the 3-point line.

"Our offense really flows when our defense is picked up," said Delle Donne. "We knew how important a good defensive effort was going to be tonight, because then we're able get out in transition. That's when we're at our best."

The Fever was paced by Marissa Coleman with 16 points. Natalie Achonwa had 12 and Maggie Lucas added 10 points. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings served a one-game suspension by the league for making contact with a game official in Friday's win over Phoenix.

Catchings was on hand before the game to help honor Lauren Hill, who died from brain cancer on April 10 at the age of 19. She had an inspirational several months in which she lived her dream of playing college basketball for Mount St. Joseph, a Division III school.

At the time of her death, Hill's work had raised $1.4 million for pediatric cancer research, according to the non-profit group The Cure Starts Now. The Fever donated $300 to the charity for each layup made by both teams during Sunday's game — a total of $9,600, a Fever spokesman said.

An Indiana jersey with Hill's name and the number 22 — her number at Mount St. Joseph — was laid over a chair on the Fever bench during the game.

Indiana (1-4) trailed 53-21 at the half. The Fever was just 6 of 35 from the floor in the first half and 1 of 12 on 3-pointers. They went more than 10 minutes between the second and third quarters without scoring.

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Delle Donne contributed seven points in the first five minutes of the game and the Sky shot 65 percent while limiting Indiana to just 12 points in the first ten minutes of action.

"The mindset was getting off to a really great start," said Chicago coach Pokey Chatman. "We've kind of struggled (previously) in the first quarter.  That's when you should be the most ready.  And I think as a group, they got together and made sure they were ready from the beginning and that resulted in a 9-2 start.  So that gave us early momentum and we were able to maintain it throughout the game."

The Sky outrebounded the Fever, 46-27, Indiana's second-largest rebounding deficit in franchise history and the 32-point hole marked the largest halftime deficit the Fever have held at home in franchise history.

Chatman was impressed with his team's defensive effort, especially its boardwork.

"We were really active and sticking to the schemes," he said. "But the best part about it was we kind of married that to rebounding.  Sometimes you play good defense and somebody will sneak in there for and a rebound, so we get the rebound and it got us out in transition and got some easy buckets."

Fever coach Stephanie White had trouble taking anything positive out of the game.

"It was an embarrassment," White said. "We didn't play with pride and that's not acceptable. We were lackluster from the start. Fortunately we came out harder to start the third quarter, but you can't do that in this league — you can't choose when to play hard and when not to."

Pondexter, Chicago's veteran guard, moved up to the No. 11 spot on the league's career assists list, passing Katie Smith with her second assist. Pondexter finished the game with four assists and a career total of 1,260 assists.

Sky pick a pair of players from power programs in top 5 of draft

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USA TODAY

Sky pick a pair of players from power programs in top 5 of draft

The first year of the post-Elena Delle Donne era for the Chicago Sky did not go well.

The Sky limped to a 12-22 record without the former WNBA MVP and scoring champ. As the Bulls are about to experience, the upside of a losing season is a high draft pick the next year.

The Sky had the third and fourth picks in the draft, which took place on Thursday, and snagged a pair of players from powerhouse programs in women's college basketball.

At No. 3 the Sky picked up Diamond DeShields from Tennessee. She led the Lady Vols in scoring in the 2016-17 season, but that was her junior year. She elected to sign overseas with Cukurova in Turkey instead of playing out her final year of eligibility. The New York Times profiled her just ahead of the WNBA draft.

Oh, and she's also the daughter of former major leaguer Delino DeShields and her brother, Delino DeShields Jr., is currently an outfielder for the Texas Rangers.

At No. 4, the Sky picked up UConn forward Gabby Williams. Williams started every game in each of the last two seasons for the Huskies, which went undefeated in the regular season and made the Final Four both of those seasons.

Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

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Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

ROSEMONT — Jonquel Jones scored 19 of her career-high 23 points in the second half and finished with 21 rebounds to help the Connecticut Sun beat the Chicago Sky 97-79 on Sunday night.

Jones, who set her previous career best of 20 rebounds on May 13, became the 12th player in WNBA history with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game. Alyssa Thomas had 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals and Lynetta Kizer scored 16 with seven rebounds for Connecticut (1-4), which won its first game of the season.

Kizer’s jumper midway through the first quarter made it 14-13 and the Sun led the rest of the way. Jessica Breland hit two free throws to pull Chicago (1-5) within four with 4:37 left in the third, but Jones scored seven points during a 10-3 run over the next three-plus minutes and the Sky got no closer.

Tamera Young led Chicago with 17 points. She has at least one made 3-pointer in each of the last five games after going nearly five calendar years (June 23, 2011) since her last 3.