NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Elena Delle Donne scored 20 points and Epiphanny Prince added 18 to help the Chicago Sky rout the New York Liberty 93-64 on Sunday.
Led by its prized rookie, Chicago (8-4) has the second-best record in the East, trailing Atlanta by 2½ games. The Sky are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They just missed last year, finishing a game behind New York for the conference’s final spot.
It turned out well for Chicago, which won the second pick in the draft lottery and took Delle Donne, who leads the WNBA in All-Star voting and is fourth in scoring at nearly 19 points per game.
On Sunday, she had nine points in the first quarter and helped the Sky put the game away in the third.
Cappie Pondexter scored 18 points to lead New York (5-7), which has lost five of its last six games.
Prince, who grew up in Brooklyn, has torched her hometown team the last three times she’s played them in New Jersey. The fourth-year guard, who went to school 45 minutes down the road at Rutgers, averaged 28 points in two wins last season. She scored in bunches on Sunday, putting up 11 in the second quarter.
New York returned home off a disappointing road trip where the Liberty dropped three of the four games, including an 87-74 loss at Chicago to kick it off. The Liberty will play three more games at home before heading back out on the road.
“We have four home games in a row, hosting Chicago then going to Chicago,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said before the game. “This stretch is big for us as far as positioning in the East.”
It didn’t get off to a good start.
While New York was coming home, Chicago was making its first trip East this season. Delle Donne, who starred down I-95 in her home state of Delaware, had a huge contingent of fans in attendance. They gave her a warm ovation when lineups were announced pregame and cheered every time she touched the ball.
Chicago led 26-23 midway through the second quarter before getting hot from behind the arc. Prince hit two 3-pointers and Swin Cash added another during a 14-3 run. Prince capped the burst with a three-point play finishing a fast break led by Delle Donne which made it 40-26.
The Sky led 42-31 at the half after Pondexter hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left.
Chicago put the game away in the third quarter. Delle Donne got things started with a rare four-point play that made it 46-33. New York trailed 50-37 before Chicago scored 18 of the next 20 points to seal the win.
The only question in the fourth was whether New York could avert its worst home loss in Newark, since moving to New Jersey three seasons ago while Madison Square Garden was being renovated. The Liberty will be back in New York next season.
New York couldn’t avoid that dubious mark, surpassing the 21-point defeat to Atlanta on June 14, 2011. The Liberty fell short of the worst home loss ever, a 37-point defeat by Seattle in 2006.
Chicago fell short of the biggest win in franchise history, a 31-point win over Phoenix last season.
The Sky were also buoyed by the return of center Sylvia Fowles, who missed the last game — a home loss to Seattle — while she recovered from a right ankle sprain. She had 10 points and six rebounds.
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