SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Stars got the kind of balanced scoring they hope to display down the stretch.
Kayla McBride scored 16 points, Danielle Adams had 14 and the Stars rolled to a 92-74 victory over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night. Sophia Young-Malcolm added 12 points, Shenise Johnson had 11 and Jia Perkins scored 12 on 5-for-8 shooting in her first game in a month.
San Antonio (13-14) finished with 27 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field (38 for 75).
"This is the kind of basketball that we want to play," Perkins said. "That's San Antonio basketball, when the ball is moving and we find the open shooters or we're taking advantage of anything on the block. We did a great, great job of that tonight."
Epiphanny Prince finished with 23 points, Jamierra Faulkner added 19 and Sylvia Fowles scored 14 for Chicago (10-16).
While San Antonio was celebrating a win that ended a two-game skid, the hallway outside of the visiting locker room echoed with Sky coach Pokey Chatman's screams and the sounds of smashed items during a 10-minute meeting.
The loss, combined with New York's 80-76 overtime victory against Washington, dropped the Sky 1 1/2 games behind the Liberty for the East's fourth and final playoff spot.
Chicago has lost eight of 10 while playing without starters Elena Delle Donne and point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who is out with a knee injury. Delle Donne, who has missed all but nine games due to Lyme disease, could return for Thursday's home game against New York.
"We've been talking about (stepping up) for a long time, probably eight games ago," Chatman said. "It's easy to read who's not here and the focus needs to be on who's here. We've not had people here all year, that's just part of it. It's part of any sport, so I just make sure we kept top of mind (of our mind) that if we do the dirt work — defend, rebound, get the 50/50 ball — you give yourself an opportunity and that's what we didn't do."
The absences of Delle Donne and Vandersloot didn't seem to hinder the Sky early as Prince had 16 points in the opening quarter while shooting 6 for 7 on a series of midrange jumpers and drives. However, she had only seven points the rest of the way.
"I think we had a more aggressive side, especially toward Epiphanny Prince," McBride said. "She had that great first quarter, so we were just trying to limit her touches and make her a passer. We were doubling down on Sylvia Fowles, not letting her get going and that turned into transition points for us. I think that started defensively."
Each team made its first four shots and combined to shoot 62 percent from the field in the opening period.
Prince had all but one of the Sky's first four baskets and Becky Hammon capped the Stars' run with a 3-pointer to give them a 9-8 lead with 7:47 left in the first quarter.
After falling behind 24-19 on Brandon's 11-foot jumper with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter, San Antonio went on a 20-1 run to take a 39-25 lead on Perkins' 3-pointer with 6 minutes left in the first half.
"Honestly, I wasn't even worried about my offensive game," Perkins said. "I was going to shoot if I'm open and just make plays but I just wanted to bring energy defensively."
After missing 11 games since straining a hamstring June 26 against Atlanta, Perkins received a loud ovation upon entering 3 minutes into the second quarter. She missed her first 3-point attempt before making her next two and a running jumper to give San Antonio a 44-29 lead with 4 minutes left in the first half.
Despite having a decidedly smaller lineup, the Stars outrebounded the Sky 39-30 and scored 34 points in the paint compared to allowing 30.
"Even when we did good things, we didn't keep the ball in front of us," Chatman said. "We scored 24, but gave up 27. Dribble penetration, help, kick, dribble penetration, contest, rebound (for San Antonio). To get outrebounded . several areas that you can't do against a good team in this league, let alone a very good San Antonio team."
Trailing 48-37 at the break, Chicago opened the second half on a 9-4 run before veterans Hammon and Young-Malcolm helped San Antonio regain its footing. The Stars led 70-56 lead entering the fourth.