The No. 6-seeded Chicago Sky not only stole a needed win to open the semifinals, but they also put an end to the hottest streak in the WNBA. And their star point guard made history.
The Sky earned it against the No. 1 Connecticut Sun, 101-95, in a matchup that required two overtime periods. Game 2 is on Thursday back at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
Courtney Vandersloot joined Sheryl Swoopes as the only players to reach a triple-double in playoff history. She is also only the 10th player in the WNBA's 25-year history to complete one. She finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and playoff-record 18 assists.
— ESPN (@espn) September 29, 2021
It was Connecticut's first loss since Aug. 12 in the Commissioner's Cup championship game. They were on a franchise-record 14-game winning streak heading into Game 1, their first of the postseason after a double-bye and 10-day layoff. The Sun went 15-1 at home this season and their top-ranked defense allowed on average 69 points per game.
Candace Parker completed a gorgeous assist by Vandersloot and Stefanie Dolson delivered on another Vandersloot assist 45 seconds later for a four-point lead midway into the second overtime. It was the largest lead of either overtime period.
The Sky are vying to become the first team seeded worse than third to reach the WNBA Finals. Neither team has won a championship.
Parker paced the Sky with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists. Allie Quigley scored 19, hitting 3 of 7 3-pointers, and Kahleah Copper added 13 points. Azura Stevens scored eight while Dolson, Astou Ndour-Fall and Diamond DeShields all scored nine off the bench.
The team assisted on 31 of 38 baskets, keeping up with their 70% assist rate.
Sun squander chances with MVP
Connecticut was marred by a cold shooting streak in the second overtime and couldn't get through a Sky defense that tightened with the game on the line. Both teams were clearly tired as overtime wore on. It was only the fifth double-overtime game in WNBA playoff history.
The Sun had chances to win it with time expiring each of the first two times. They bled out the regulation clock only to have DeWanna Bonner take a forced toss. On the final possession of the first overtime, they forced a turnover but nearly fumbled it themselves at midcourt. Instead of attempting a shot near the 3-point line, Brionna Jones bounced it by her defender to get it into Jonquel Jones as time expired.
As the overtimes wore on, the Sun's struggles at the free-throw line became glaringly concerning. They were 17-for-21, a margin that could have given them the win in regulation. As a team, they were 37.8% from the floor, while the Sky shot nearly 50%.
Jonquel Jones, named MVP to start the day, scored a team-high 26 points with 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal. But the Sun didn't get her good touches in the second overtime. Brionna Jones, named Most Improved Player, scored 22 points with 10 rebounds. And Bonner added 13 points.
Sky force OT with defensive stand
Copper had a chance to give the Sky the late lead, but missed the first of her three free throws and instead tied it. Chicago's defense forced Bonner into a throw-and-pray toss as time expired that forced overtime.
The Sky used a 7-0 run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to take the largest lead of the half, 73-67. Quigley made two free throws while bigs Ndour-Fall and Dolson took open looks closer to the arc. Dolson's 3-pointer on an assist by Quigley closed the streak and forced the Sun into a timeout.
Connecticut never came closer than two points behind for the rest of the game until Jonquel Jones hit two free throws, the first of which nearly rimmed out, amid chants of "MVP" at Mohegan Sun. It tied it, 82-82, with 90 seconds to play.
The Sun defense forced Parker into a tough shot that air-balled as the shot clock expired and Brionna Jones secured an offensive rebound and putback for the Sun that made it 84-82 before Copper's free throws.
The Sky played at their pace and took a 24-21 lead through one quarter. The Sun came into the series allowing on average 16.3 points in the first quarter, per ESPN Stats and Info. Connecticut took its first lead of the game, 36-34, on a Bonner bucket with three minutes left. DeShields scored seven points in five minutes to keep Chicago with the slimmest of leads, 47-46, at the half.