Epiphanny Prince, the Sky's leading scorer, is in limbo.
A feeling the team could find itself in a similarly discomfiting position without Prince — whether absent, injured or both — was assuaged, barely, as the Sky staggered to a 72-70 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Sunday at Allstate Arena.
Elena Delle Donne's two free throws with 1.8 seconds left won the game, allowing the Sky to survive 24 turnovers. Delle Donne finished with 23 points, a new high in her young career.
"It doesn't matter how you win," said Swin Cash, whose pass set up Delle Donne for the shot that drew the foul. "It's the character and toughness that let you find a way to win. Games like this last year, we lost."
They lost seven of eight when Prince was sidelined with an injury last season. Now her absence is expected, as the shooting guard with dual citizenship is scheduled to be spending this month with the Russian national team at the EuroBasket tournament in France.
Prince left the Sky for Europe after last Sunday's game, then sprained her right ankle Thursday playing for Russia against China in a preparation tourney at Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
She flew back to Chicago on Friday for examination by Dr. Lowell Weil, who had done surgery on her to fix damage from a broken bone in the same foot that forced her to miss the games last season.
Sky coach Pokey Chatman told the Tribune before Sunday's game the examination had revealed a grade-two sprain that likely would sideline Prince for two weeks.
Here is where it gets complicated. Chatman said Prince went home Saturday to New York, where she is awaiting word from Russian officials about returning to Europe.
She apparently needs a medical exam in Europe for clearance to play in the EuroBasket. So Prince may go back for that, but Chatman said no matter the outcome, she will return to Chicago for rehab.
Sunday, the Sky (4-1) took advantage of a San Antonio team (2-2) whose two top players are injured, getting big games again from rookie Delle Donne and veteran Sylvia Fowles.
Delle Donne, who played a lot in the low post, went over 20 for the third time this season. Fowles (15 points, 16 rebounds) had her third double-double in five games.
"We won on the boards (45-31), we got to the line more than they did (23-9)," Delle Donne said. "In the end, we did enough things to get the win."
Without Prince on Friday in San Antonio, the team lost its first game of this season.
"Yes, we lost the first one without her (Prince), and the second one was hard," Fowles said. "She brings a lot to the table, but I think if we contribute together as a team, we can win."
It won't be easy with so many turnovers, especially with the next three games on the road.
"Today was horrible," Chatman said. "We had a stretch with three turnovers in five possessions. If we don't correct it, we won't be happy."
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