No. 6 Sky pull one win away from WNBA Finals as Sun struggle to close out Game 3

·5-min read

Courtney Vandersloot didn't score her first points until early in the fourth quarter, and when she did, it was as if it was the first crack of an avalanche.

Vandersloot again proved key for No. 6 seed Chicago, leading the Sky down the stretch for an 86-83 win against the No. 1 Connecticut Sun in Game 3 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Sunday. The Sky lead the best-of-five series, 2-1, and are one win from becoming the first team not seeded Nos. 1-3 to reach it. 

Game 4 is back at Wintrust Arena on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

The point guard scored all seven of her points in the fourth and added 13 assists and five rebounds. She took a big charge from Alyssa Thomas late in the quarter that began to turn the tide and set up Chicago's easy basket on the other end. 

"I've played against enough to know she was looking for the basket," Vandersloot said. "I was in the right position trying to make the right play."

The Sky took the 75-74 lead, the 16th lead change of the contest, and never gave it up. 

Candace Parker
Chicago Sky center Candace Parker secured rebounds to put the Chicago Sky one win away from the WNBA Finals. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Sky's even attack outlasts Connecticut 

Kahleah Copper provided the offense throughout another tight game and scored a game-high 26 points. She was 3-for-6 from 3-point range and her transition basket lit up both the team and the crowd as the Sky fought back from a six-point deficit that at first appeared would be another Sun pull-away. 

"Kah's energy was infectious," Sky head coach James Wade said postgame. "Defensively, offensively, when we needed plays she and [Allie] Quigley made them. The energy was just amazing what they gave tonight."

Candace Parker's rebound on the Sun's final possession sealed the win and she added a free throw on the other end. It gave Parker a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double as she paced the team throughout. She had seven rebounds in the first half. 

Azura Stevens also hit a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. It was Stevens who cut to the basket for the easy layup after Vandersloot took the charge. She had six points in the final frame to push the Sky. 

Allie Quigley had 21 points, shooting 4-for-7 from 3-point range. The Sky were 9-for-20 (45%) from range, which proved the difference, and shot 46.3% overall. Both that mark and their 86 total points broke Sun head coach Curt Miller's goals for a win. The Sky have won only one game this season in which they've scored fewer than 80 points. 

The defenses put on the brightest show with various instances of play going back-and-forth with consecutive blocks, steals and forced turnovers. It was 3-point shooting and rebounding that put the Sky ahead, 37-35, at the half. Chicago shot 45% (5-for-11) from behind the arc whereas the Sun were 4-for-13. Chicago dominated the boards, 22-12.

No. 1 Sun missed chances

The Sun have had chances to close both of their losses late, but haven't been able to do so. On Sunday, the glaring play was a missed layup by Briann January on a steal that would have put them ahead, 85-84, with eight seconds. The defense forced Quigley into a turnover on the inbound, and January led the transition. She went for a reverse layup and no one could corral the rebound.  

But they had other chances on both ends, too. And once again, MVP Jonquel Jones stayed relatively quiet. Though she was more aggressive than Game 2 at the onset, she couldn't continue to break through. She was 5-for-11 for 10 points with 10 rebounds, three assist and four blocks. 

Alyssa Thomas took over the fourth quarter for a second consecutive game, scoring nine consecutive Sun points to come back into it after falling behind by six. Her jumper with 16.8 seconds to go trailing by one bounced off the rim and the Sky secured the rebound. Thomas had 18 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block coming off the bench. 

DeWanna Bonner led the Sun with 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. January had 11 points. Most Improved Player Brionna Jones was also kept quiet with eight points and two rebounds in 19 minutes. 

Just as with the previous two games, the sides traded baskets throughout the third for a 63-60 Sun advantage by the end. Natisha Hiedeman's 3-pointer with time running out and Thomas' jumper proved to be enough of a buffer until back-to-back baskets by Copper and Vandersloot's first points of the game brought it within one, 72-71, at 5:34.

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