Sky coach Pokey Chatman figured the green toe nail polish Sylvia Fowles was wearing while rehabbing her ankle this week was a sign.
"I said to her, 'That means you’re going to be The Hulk?' " Chatman said.
The Sky center answered that with a performance incredible enough Wednesday that the winning and losing coaches and one of her teammates each chose the word "beast" to describe what Fowles had done in an 89-85 victory over the Washington Mystics at Allstate Arena.
Epiphanny Prince, who scored the winning basket after the Sky (9-4) squandered an eight-point lead late in the game, put it best.
"When she's in beast mode, I don’t think anybody can stop her," Prince said.
Fowles' monster game included a season-high 26 points on 12-of-17 field goal shooting, 18 rebounds (10 offensive), three blocked shots and a steal.
She did all that on an ankle still needing two or three rehab sessions a day after an injury had forced her to miss 1 1/2 games before returning Sunday against New York.
"Overall, she was a beast in the lane," Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. "Those 10 offensive rebounds kept them going every time they lost momentum. She was clearly the difference."
Fowles scored half her baskets on rebounds and added two free throws after being fouled on another put-back.
"I guess I was in the right place at the right time," she said.
Coming off their most lopsided victory, the Sky looked like a scoring machine at times but let the Mystics back in the game when shots stopped falling.
Prince scored seven points in the first 31/2 minutes and then went 25 minutes without a point. Her final two came on a 20-foot jump shot that broke an 85-85 tie with 38.3 seconds to play.
"Piph is always crunch," Fowles said. "When she needs to take over, she takes over. Today we needed her on that shot, and she didn’t second guess it. She let it go because she knew it was going in."
Elena Delle Donne sealed the triumph with two free throws, giving her 18 points despite a poor shooting game from the floor (5 of 19). Delle Donne pitched in five of the Sky’s 20 assists on its 33 baskets, with Prince assisting on four and Courtney Vandersloot on six.
"This was a big win for us," Vandersloot said. "It wasn’t pretty toward the end but we did what it takes."firstname.lastname@example.org