WASHINGTON (AP) — Everything came crashing down for the Chicago Sky during the second half against the Washington Mystics, including star rookie Elena Delle Donne.
The top All-Star vote-getter suffered a concussion in the Sky’s 82-78 loss Wednesday to the Mystics and is questionable for the All-Star game on Saturday. Delle Donne sustained the concussion with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter and did not return.
Washington coach Mike Thibault said Delle Donne’s head hit the knee of Mystics forward Kia Vaughn while going for a loose ball.
“She’s not nauseous now,” said Sky coach Pokey Chatman, who confirmed the concussion after the Mystics’ team doctor examined Delle Donne. “She’s groggy, headache . . . moving gingerly. Hopefully she’ll be OK.”
Chicago is off until after the All-Star break. Delle Donne might be as well.
“The WNBA has their rules,” Chatman said. “It’s unfortunate, obviously for her, for us and also for Saturday. We have to make sure she gets back to healthy.”
Delle Donne, the WNBA’s third-leading scorer at 18.6 points per game, is the first rookie to lead the All-Star voting. She finished with 12 points Wednesday, going 2 of 15 from the field.
All-Star Ivory Latta had 18 points and 13 assists as the Mystics rallied from a 21-point deficit over the Eastern Conference-leading Sky.
Latta scored 10 points in the third quarter and rookie Emma Meesseman had all 12 of her points in the fourth. The Mystics (9-9) took control with a 15-4 run midway through the final quarter. Washington, which had lost two straight, picked up a rare victory over Chicago.
“Coach was really getting on us,” Latta said about the turnaround. “People came in off the bench and once again helped us rally to get this win. It was an all-team defensive effort.”
Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and Epiphanny Prince added 18 for the Sky (12-5), who had won 10 of 11 against Washington and entered with a season-high, five-game winning streak.
Meesseman scored six during the decisive run, including two free throws and a layup to give Washington a 75-64 lead with five minutes remaining.
Swin Cash added 10 points for the Sky, and her layup with 14.9 seconds remaining cut Washington’s lead to 81-78.
Monique Currie finished with 14 points and Tayler Hill had 11 for the Mystics. Hill made one of two free throws with 12.4 seconds, giving Washington a four-point lead, and the Sky misfired on their final possession.
“That’s a heck of a win for a lot of reasons,” Thibault said. “When you’re down 21 and you’re kind of wavering about your own individual and team pride, to step up and make a stand like we did was really good.”
Trailing 42-28 in the second quarter, the Mystics staged a 15-2 run, including the first eight points of the third quarter, seven coming from Latta. After Chicago pushed the margin back to six, the Mystics took a 50-49 lead with a 7-0 spurt, capped by Hill’s 3-pointer.
Scoreless in her previous two games and through three quarters, Meesseman hit two jump shots to open the fourth period and made 5 of 6 over the final 10 minutes.
“The team gave me confidence, they kept saying, ‘Shoot the ball, shoot the ball,’” Meesseman said.
The Sky won the only previous meeting this season at home, 89-85. Starting with the August matchup in Chicago, the teams meet three more times this season.
“Obviously, an extremely disappointing loss,” Chatman said. “Anytime you allow a team to score in the 80s, makes it tough on yourself.”
Delle Donne scored a season-low seven points in her previous game, the first time she failed to reach double digits. She had 11 points in the first half against Washington, but missed eight of 10 shots.
“It happens,” Chatman said of her offensive struggles. “With Elena, it’s all eyes on ‘E.’ The rookies usually hit that rookie wall coming off their NCAA season. She’s a rookie by stature, but she plays the minutes of a five-to-six year vet and does a lot for us. I think this break comes at a really good time for her.”
The visiting Sky played in front of a split crowd thanks to many Delle Donne supporters rooting for the former Delaware star.
Delle Donne sank her first attempt, a 3-pointer from the top of the key that put Chicago in front and started an 11-1 run. Though the No. 2 overall pick in the draft missed her next four field goal attempts, the Sky led 24-12 after the first quarter.
“We wanted her to take really tough shots and that’s what we made her do,” Latta said.
After hitting on two free throws to start the second period, the 6-foot-5 guard drained her second shot from beyond the arc in as many attempts, sparking a 15-2 run.
Fowles capped the spurt with two free throws for a 35-14 lead midway through the second quarter. Delle Donne finished the half 2 of 10 from the floor, but made all five of her free throws and Chicago entered halftime leading 44-35.