Sky beats Fever in season opener
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Sky turned to their defensive intensity when their offense wasn't clicking.
The Sky relied on their rebounding and defense to rally from an 18-point deficit to beat the Indiana Fever 74-71 on Friday night in their WNBA season opener.
The Fever scored only 25 points in the second half.
''Early in the season, teams are incorporating new players and trying to find rhythm,'' Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. ''You need to make sure you have the defensive intensity turned up and you're locked in.''
Elena Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA rookie of the year, scored 23 points and Jessica Breland added 13.
Natasha Howard had 16 points and Shavonte Zellous added 14 for the Fever, who led by 18 in the first quarter. Indiana had beaten the Sky in 11 of the last 12 meetings, including a two-game sweep in last year's playoffs.
Fever coach Lin Dunn noted the Sky had the advantage at the free-throw line. Chicago made 22 of 26 foul shots while Indiana was 13 of 18.
''We could have gone to the free-throw line three or four more times,'' Dunn said. ''We had some fouls that weren't called. I didn't think our kids handled the physicalness of the game. We're in a situation where we're trying to get some new people playing time. We didn't finish some shots around the basket.''
Chicago took its first lead, 65-63, since the opening seconds on Jamierra Faulkner's layup with 6:28 left. Faulkner scored five points during the Sky's 9-0 run.
The Fever's Briann January hit a jumper to tie it at 65 with 3:20 left. She made a layup for a 71-67 Indiana lead with 1:47 left.
Delle Donne hit a jumper to cut it to 71-69.
After a loose ball foul, Indiana's Erlana Larkins was called for a technical with 1:08 left. Delle Donne and Breland combined for three free throws for a 72-71 Sky lead.
''I'm really disappointed we lost our poise and composure and allowed them to take the lead on a technical foul,'' Dunn said.
Zellous missed a three with 11.7 seconds left.
Chicago's Sasha Goodlett hit two free throws with 11.1 seconds remaining. Marissa Coleman missed a 3 before the buzzer.
The Sky shot 38.5 percent to Indiana's 37.5 percent.
''I had to continue to attack and be aggressive and see the open man,'' said Delle Donne, who scored 16 points in the second half.
Both teams were missing key players. The Sky's Sylvia Fowles (hip surgery) and Epiphanny Prince (personal reasons) were out. Olympian Tamika Catchings (sore back) and Layshia Clarendon (concussion) were not with the Fever. Dunn said Catchings might be back within a week or two.
Indiana led 46-36 at halftime and 30-14 after the first quarter.
''I know when we start subbing, things are going to change,'' Dunn said. ''It's too bad I couldn't play the five that got us the 18-point lead 40 minutes.''