Sky completely upset Sun to book WNBA Finals ticket


Courtney Vandersloot and the Chicago Sky are back in the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2014 thanks in large part to Candace Parker’s decision to come home.

Vandersloot scored 19 points and Kahleah Copper added 18 to help Sky beat the Connecticut Sun 79-69 on Wednesday night.

“We were missing a piece, and that was Candace Parker,” Vandersloot said. “We knew what she was bringing us. She was going to get us to this point here. Whether we won a championship or not, she changed that franchise.”

Parker, who returned home to Chicago this season after spending the first 13 years of her career in Los Angeles, finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

“It’s amazing,” Parker said. “It’s a complete moment. Look around the stands and see all the people I’ve started playing basketball with. It’s super special.”

WATCH | The sky stuns the sun to reach the final:

Sky qualifies for WNBA finals with victory over number one seed Sun

Chicago Sky qualifies for the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2014 with a 79-69 victory over seeded Connecticut Sun. 1:16

Chicago was .500 during the regular season, but a big reason was that Parker was sidelined for the first part of the year with an ankle injury. Once she returned, the team started to get under way.

The Sky jumped across Connecticut behind Vandersloot. She hit two threes to help build a 13-2 advantage less than three minutes into the first quarter. His ability to connect from long distance helped transform Chicago’s offensive approach to the game.

“She was knocking down all three, and I think that makes us a different ball club,” Parker said. “We always preach to be aggressive. We’re a different team when that happens, and I love the way they adapt.”

Sky, who held a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, opened the period with an 8-2 streak to sideline the game.

Jonquel Jones led the way for the Sun with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Natisha Hiedeman added 16 points off the bench, scoring five 3 points.

“I can’t say exactly why we didn’t come out with this enthusiasm and energy that we needed,” Jones said. “I think that was definitely a big factor. The shots just weren’t falling.”

Connecticut managed to reduce the deficit to three in the second quarter, but the Sky then finished the half on a 16-6 streak. The Sun would never get any closer than that the rest of the way.

It was the first time the No.1 seed failed to reach the final since the WNBA changed its playoff format in 2016.

“It’s certainly a sad and disappointed locker room,” said Sun coach Curt Miller. “It’s just a disappointing eight day streak where we just got passed, we got passed. It just felt like we were still on our heels this streak.”

Mercury accelerator aces

The Las Vegas Aces were hampered by their previous two games, a pair of losses that put them on the brink of elimination.

They took it personally, got back to doing what they do best, and now have a chance to land a spot in the WNBA final at home.

Chelsea Gray scored 22 points and the Aces took advantage of a huge run in the third quarter to beat the Phoenix Mercury 93-76 in the evening of the WNBA semi-finals at 2-all.

“It was just a change of attitude,” said As goalie Kelsey Plum, who had 20 points and six assists. “For us to be beaten like we did in the previous two games, it’s a lesson in humility. You have to see the best I can do as an individual, what can I do to help the team and I’m really proud that everyone just joined tonight. “

WATCH | Aces rout Mercury in Game 4:

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The Las Vegas Aces beat Phoenix Mercury 93-76 to tie their WNBA semi-final at 2-2. 1:04

The Aces got off to a good start for the first time in three games and walked away from the Mercury with a score of 26-2 to start the third quarter.

A’ja Wilson rebounded from a shaky Game 3 with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Riquna Williams provided a lift with 17 points. Gray hit four 3s and Las Vegas shot 11 of 22 from the arc to set up a deciding fifth game on Friday in Las Vegas. The winner faces Heaven.

“This is how we play basketball,” said Aces coach Bill Laimbeer.

Phoenix had to play without guard Sophie Cunningham due to calf strain, then lost Canadian guard Kia Nurse with a right knee injury after 39 seconds of the game.

The nurse fell into agony after being blocked by Wilson. She left with a cautious limp and returned to the bench in formal attire in the third quarter as the Mercury struggled to shake what appeared to be a serious injury to one of their key players.

“I think it gave them a big punch,” said Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. “I think it showed how important Kia Nurse is to us.”

WATCH | The nurse leaves early with a knee injury:

Canada’s Kia Nurse leaves WNBA playoff game with knee injury

Phoenix Mercury goalie Kia Nurse injures her knee during her layup attempt. The Hamilton native leaves the game and does not return. 1:16

The Mercury were sharp at the start, thanks to a comeback from Shey Peddy (13 points), but were dislocated at both ends in the Aces run in the third quarter.

Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith had 14 points each to lead Phoenix.

“You knew they were going to respond and today we knew it was going to happen,” Taurasi said. “We just haven’t done the things you need to beat a great team.”

Las Vegas won Game 1 of the series, but the Mercury won back-to-back routs to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Phoenix set WNBA records for points (117) and halftime points (68) to win Game 2, then played one of their best all-around games of the season to move within a victory in her first WNBA final since winning her title in 2014.

After being forced to play the home game opener at Arizona State – Disney On Ice was previously scheduled at the Footprint Center – the Mercury returned to their real home for Game 4, playing Game 2 of a doubles program after a game pre-season of the Suns and Lakers in the NBA. .

Las Vegas invaded the Mercury to start the third quarter, losing in 3 seconds and exiting at the break as the crowd groaned, extending the lead to 75-48. The Aces held off a run from Phoenix in the fourth quarter and Liz Cambage’s fifth foul to earn a chance to win the series at home.

“We fell into the trap of not being that aggressive and on the same page defensively,” said Brondello.


Herman C. Harkins

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