Lack of late-game execution, attention to details foil Sky in 83-75 loss to Sun

Keeping games close has not been an issue for the Sky.

So far this season, they haven’t lost a game by more than 13 points. The hurdle, however, has been coming up big in clutch time.

When the Sky slowly began chipping away at the Sun’s double-digit fourth-quarter lead, hanging over them was their 2-5 record in clutch games. On Wednesday, that record worsened to 2-6 with their 83-75 loss to the Sun at Wintrust Arena.

“[Details] are exactly what I talked to the team about at the end of the game,” Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “Paying attention to details. The execution of the play that’s drawn up. Execute the play. We can’t go away from it.

“We have to understand the smallest details matter in this game. We have to correct that mess immediately.”

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, a couple of opportune threes from Diamond DeShields cut that deficit to single digits. Her second, with 28 seconds to play, made it a four-point game.

Back-to-back trips to the free- throw line by Sun forward DeWanna Bonner iced the game.

The Sun’s backcourt trio all scored in double figures. Bonner had 16 points, Alyssa Thomas had a team-high 20 points and Brionna Jones finished with 18.

Kamilla Cardoso was a full go for the Sky on Wednesday night for the first time this season.

Gone was the minutes restriction, taking with it any notion that she was still working her way back from a shoulder injury. Against the Sun’s formidable frontcourt, Cardoso and Angel Reese held their own.

However, in the fourth quarter, the Sun’s experience showed.

“I gotta go out there and I gotta make layups,” Cardoso said. “Executing [was the difference in the fourth quarter], making sure we were paying attention to the little details.

“Honestly, we did a pretty good job against them. [Bonner, Thomas and Jones] finished in double figures, but look at the score. It was a close game. The biggest thing for us is just focusing on those details.”

Cardoso finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Reese led the Sky with 20 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the field, and added 10 rebounds. DeShields added nine points and Marina Mabrey finished with 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

“I think we played great for 30, but that’s not enough against them,” Mabrey said.

The Sun went on an 18-7 run that carried from the end of the third quarter through the fourth, putting the Sky in a double-digit hole.

The Sky committed 19 turnovers — four in the fourth quarter — which the Sun converted into 14 points. The Sun had 28 free-throw attempts compared to the Sky’s 15.

“Our defense must be a little more active,” Weatherspoon said about the Sun’s late-game run. “We can’t allow them to get to where they want to get to, get into the painted area. They’re pretty good when they’re in the paint. Then, offensively, we must be able to read better. See what’s happening to us and then running the right play.”

Wednesday’s loss drops the Sky to 1-5 at home and 4-7 overall. The Sky have only one signature win 11 games into the season — beating the Liberty in the second week of the season. The Sky’s other three wins came against the league’s bottom four teams.

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