Chicago Sky tops Phoenix Mercury 86-50 for Game 3 victory, takes 2-1 series lead
With the largest margin of victory in WNBA Finals history, the Chicago Sky routed the Phoenix Mercury 86-50 in a crucial game three of the best-of-five title series. The victory came in front of a sold out crowd at Wintrust Arena that included several celebrities, former WNBA players, and prominent college coaches. The Sky, leading the series 2-1, is one win away from its first championship in franchise history.
Led by a dominant offensive performance from Kahleah Copper, the Sky pounced out of the gate and raced to a 20-11 lead in the first quarter. Chicago’s defense was in full effect as they held Phoenix to just a 21.1% (4-19) field goal percentage. The Sky shot 53.8% (7-13) from the floor in the same period.
It didn’t get any easier for the Mercury in the second stanza as Chicago continued to throttle Phoenix, outscoring the visitors 26-13. Copper scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the first half, with 13 coming in the second quarter.
“Our defensive activity was really good,” said Sky coach James Wade. “I thought that we were very active, and we were connected. You saw a lot of covering for each other, a lot of communication. I think it created easy opportunities for us. We were able to turn them over and score out of those turnovers, and I was pretty proud of that.”
Indeed, Chicago scored 22 points off turnovers compared to seven by Phoenix. The Mercury committed 19 turnovers to the Sky’s 14.
At the break, Chicago had a 46-24 advantage. No Phoenix player was in the double figures. Mercury leading scorer and rebounder Brittney Griner had just four points and two rebounds in the first half. Sky starters shot 66.7% from the floor, while Mercury starters shot at a paltry 29.3% clip.
Phoenix fared better in the third quarter, getting outscored by just two points, but the 22-point halftime deficit barely budged. The Sky excelled in the last period, and as their advantage swelled, reserve players were able to get some valuable minutes, including the lone rookie in the Finals, guard Dana Evans. She managed to hype up an already raucous crowd with a trio of three-pointers to help close out the Sky’s offensive onslaught.
In addition to Copper, Candace Parker and Diamond DeShields finished in double figures for the hometown team. Parker tallied 13 points plus four rebounds. DeShields came off the bench for 11 points, five rebounds, and five steals. The finals assists leader, Courtney Vandersloot, dished out 10 to go along with her four points. She became the first WNBA player to total three double-figure assist games in a Finals series.
Griner led Phoenix with 16 points and only grabbed two rebounds overall. Coming into the game, Griner averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest. No other Phoenix player scored in double figures. Diana Taurasi earned only five points, and Skylar Diggins-Smith had just seven.
“They really took us out of everything we wanted to run,” Taurasi said of Chicago’s defense.
Mercury coach Sandy Brondello minced no words in summarizing her team’s performance.
“We got our butts kicked tonight, which is disappointing. Like I said at the start, they were really, really aggressive….We still got some open looks, and we missed them. I think we just lost momentum….What they were doing was working, and it rattled us a little bit, to be quite honest. But we’ve got to be better….This is one where you’re coaching, okay, we just flush that one because we’re a better team, but it wasn’t what we showed. But full credit to Chicago. They prepared well, and obviously, Copper, who we talked about, was a handful in that first half.”
Phoenix had the lowest shooting percentage (25.8%) in a WNBA Finals game in league history. Previously, the low was 28.6%, set by Detroit in 2013 against Los Angeles.
Game 4 is set for Sunday, Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.