Sky douse Sun 79-69 to advance to Finals for the first time since 2014
With four players in double figures, the Chicago Sky advanced to the WNBA Finals for the second time in franchise history after beating the Connecticut Sun 79-69 in a best-of-five semifinal series.
The last time the franchise competed for a championship was in 2014 when the team fell to the Phoenix Mercury in three games. With a cadre of elite veterans, this season’s squad looks to make a serious run at the title after taking down the higher-seeded Sun in game three of the series at Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago.
“We have a lot of momentum,” said Sky head coach James Wade. “So, it’s hard to beat us right now.”
The Sun played without starting guard and defensive juggernaut Briann January, who was out due to an ankle injury and averaged 10.7 points per game during the semifinals. Kaila Charles started in her place.
Sharp-shooting Courtney Vandersloot got the Sky started early with a dazzling display from beyond the arc. With treys from Vandersloot, key shots from Kahleah Copper, and impressive dimes from Candace Parker, the Sky outpaced the Sun for a 32-26 lead in the first quarter with 13 points from Vandersloot, who shot 83 percent from the floor in the first ten minutes.
The Sun recovered somewhat in the second period, with Jasmine Thomas and Brionna Jones leading the way as the visitors outscored the Sky 22-15. But it was not enough to overcome the home team. The Sky closed the quarter with a 5-0 run giving the team its largest lead of the half. At the break, Chicago led Connecticut 54-41.
The Sun continued to try and chip away at the Sky’s lead in the third period, outscoring Chicago 17-11 and managing to get within seven points twice. Heading into the final frame, the Sky still had the advantage, 65-58.
The Sky sealed the victory in the last period, outpacing the higher seed 14-11 with Parker leading the way. Chicago never trailed, winning wire to wire to secure a place in the Finals.
Sun head coach Curt Miller said his team was outcoached and outplayed in the contest.
“We just couldn’t get enough disruption…. It’s just felt like we were always on our heels in this series…. It just caught up with us.” Heading into the series, the Sun was on a 14-game winning streak.
For Chicago, Vandersloot led the way with 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists. She tied Ticha Penicheiro for sixth all-time in assists in WNBA Playoffs history (204). Kahleah Copper added 18 points plus six rebounds and Parker had an impressive balanced outing with 17 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Azurá Stevens was also in double figures with 11 points plus seven rebounds.
The league’s MVP, Jonquel Jones, finished with 25 points plus 11 rebounds in her final game of the season. Third-year guard Natisha Hiedeman came off the bench for 16 points. Veteran guard Jasmine Thomas scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds.
The Sky’s semifinals triumph comes after winning consecutive games in two single-elimination playoff rounds beating Dallas and Minnesota. With a .500 record (16-16) during the regular season, the franchise became just the third team in league history to reach the Finals after having a .500-or-worse record in the regular season.
Next: The Sky will play the winner of the Phoenix Mercury and the Las Vegas Aces series in the Finals. The Aces and Mercury are tied 2-2 and play game five of their series on Friday, Oct. 8. Game one of the Finals is set for Sunday, Oct. 10 at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC at either Las Vegas or Phoenix.
Sky head coach James Wade is succinct early in his presser: “Let’s keep it going!”— Hoopfeed.com ? (@hoopfeed) October 7, 2021
He was pleased with the turnout for the game: “I had to take a couple of second takes and just look at the crowd.” #WNBA #WNBATwitter pic.twitter.com/BWbp49Kh2t