8:30 PM ET, June 1, 2012
The Chicago Sky have never made the playoffs in their six-year history, but if Sylvia Fowles continues her strong play, this may be the year that drought ends.Coming off another impressive performance, Fowles will try to help the Sky win their eighth straight over the visiting Washington Mystics on Friday night.In 2011, Fowles had a career year, -- averaging 20.0 points and 10.2 rebounds. She was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and was a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.Still, Chicago missed the playoffs again, finishing fifth in the conference at 14-20.However, led by Fowles, the Sky (2-1) are off to a promising start, picking up their second road victory Wednesday with a 77-63 win at San Antonio. Fowles finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for her third double-double, and Epiphanny Prince added 22 points and five steals.Chicago took advantage of a smaller Silver Stars lineup, getting the ball frequently inside to Fowles, who went 10 of 13 and had four offensive rebounds."Every time," Sky coach Pokey Chatman at one point yelled at point guard Courtney Vandersloot. "Every time. There is no answer for it. They're either going to double team or have play her straight."Washington (1-2) already knows how difficult it is to defend Fowles, who is averaging 22.3 points and a league-high 11.3 rebounds. She had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the Sky's season-opening 69-57 victory against the Mystics on May 19 -- Chicago's seventh straight win in the series.The Sky, who opened last season 3-1, dropped their home opener 83-72 to Indiana last Friday and will face a Mystics team playing its first road game of the season.After losing by double digits to Chicago, Washington's last two games have been decided by a combined five points. The Mystics fell 79-77 to Minnesota on Wednesday on a last-second shot by Lindsay Whalen.Washington rallied from a 24-point deficit to take a 73-72 lead with 3:24 to go, but the Mystics couldn't grab a defensive rebound in the final seconds, allowing Minnesota to score the eventual game-winner.Matee Ajavon scored 20 points -- including 14 in the second half -- and had seven steals, but Washington gave up 12 offensive rebounds and was outrebounded 30-22 overall.Despite the heartbreaking defeat, the Mystics are feeling optimistic."We never quit," coach Trudi Lacey said. "In a lot of ways, we simply ran out of time. We didn't lose the game."After opening the season at home, Washington plays five of seven on the road. The Mystics were 2-15 away from home in 2011, losing their final nine road games. Their two road losses against the Sky were each by 13 points.Washington's last win against Chicago was a 65-61 victory June 19, 2010.