CHICAGO – No WNBA team has repeated as champions since Los Angeles Sparks He did it in 2001-02, and ranked No. 3 Connecticut Sun Ensure that the cold streak will extend Thursday night in historic fashion, using 22-2 in the fourth quarter to knock out the No. 2 seed and defending champion Chicago Sky With a 72-63 win in a game of 5 the winner wins it all in the Wintrust Arena.
Connecticut will take the top ranked Las Vegas Aces In the best of five WNBA Finals, with Game 1 Sunday at 3PM ET on ABC. Both teams are seeking their first WNBA title, ensuring a new champion for the third time in four seasons. The Aces opened as the top 250 finalists, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Team Sky dominated much of Thursday night’s game, edging out the Sun by 18 points across the second and third quarters, taking Connecticut to just eight points in the third quarter and leading by as many as 11 with 7:20 points remaining in the game.
But the Sun came back and asserted its will on both sides, closing the match in the 18-0 round to shocking the sky and crowding Wintrust. Chicago, usually known for their offensive flow and balanced scoring ability, went goalless in the final 4:46 of the game.
“Maybe we stopped attacking and were afraid to lose instead of trying to win,” said Chicago Courtney Vanderslot He said of the dramatic swing from the third to fourth quarter.
Shifting the momentum in favor of the sun was forever a Bonner’s office and -1 with 3:46 left which cut the sky’s lead to seven and led to a heated exchange with Team Chicago Kolaya copper – who was actually called up for a technical foul earlier in the first quarter but avoided winning a second this time.
Bonner made the ensuing free throw conversion, and the sun continued to roll from there. Jonquil Jones and -1 at 2:00 allowed them to take the lead for the first time since the second quarter.
“I think this is the moment we settle in for a bit,” Bonner said. “We got really excited… We searched when that happened, and it was like, ‘There’s a lot of time left.’ That’s all we need from a fire.”
The Sun’s 18-0 run is the longest WNBA playoff close in league history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Sky held five points in the final frame, the lowest in a fourth-quarter winner-takes-all game in WNBA history and the second-lowest in any playoff game.
“I think this is a learning experience,” two-time NBA player and WNBA champion Candice Parker He said. “We can’t leave our foot off the gas, and I think we did a little bit more.”
Sky coach James Wade added: “Probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had on a professional level. The players gave everything this year and did everything. I thought they deserved more. … I felt I could have done a better job getting a bucket them, and I couldn’t get them.”
Connecticut State won despite making 23 turnovers, the most by a team in a WNBA playoff game. Eight of them came in the third quarter, matching the number of points the Sun scored in that frame.
“I know people want to try and tag this group: ‘When it’s easy, Connecticut is really special. It’s when it’s hard – can Connecticut win hard? “And tonight we won the award,” said Sun coach Kurt Miller. “We were back against the wall. There were some plays, probably, until the match opened, and they refused to give up. They had that grit and determination, which is what we built on.”
Bonner and Jones Sun topped with 15 points each, though every Connecticut player hit double digits. Coopers 22 led the sky.
The Sun, who competed in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season and led the WNBA with the most number of wins without a title (36), is advancing to its first WNBA Finals since 2019, when it lost to the WNBA. Sophia Washington In five games. They became the third WNBA team ever to knock out a playoff team that swept them in the regular season (4-0), and they did so by taking revenge on the same team that eliminated them from the playoffs in the semifinals last year.
Connecticut’s resurgence in the past four years has not come without hardship. Jones, the 2021 MVP, opted out of the 2020 bubble season due to COVID-19 concerns, and the franchise’s share Alyssa Thomas He missed most of the regular 2021 season with an Achilles tendon rupture, returning to the playoffs but without enough time for the team to find his entire identity with her back in the fold. Then the long guard post Jasmine Thomas She tore her ACL in late May, and add late in the season Bria Hartley She sustained the same injury in July, just three games into her short-lived career in Connecticut.
The Sun faced more adversity in the post-season, needing to go through a first-round playoff in Dallas and then two more games against Chicago after a brutal four-point defeat in Game 3 at home as the team shot less than 40% in the paint. However, there were signs of life, after a certain 104-80 win in Game 4, as their insult looked at its best in all of the post-season.
“We wanted this bad thing,” Bonner said. “We come here every year, and Chicago kicks us.” “We’ve lost to them, say, seven times in a row, like we couldn’t figure it out. And I think the fourth game, we got to it and went in with a little bit more confidence.”
Even after Thursday’s disastrous third quarter in which he appears to have given up control of his hometown Sky, the Sun wasn’t ready to let its season end yet.
“We don’t fold anymore,” the sun Natisha Hedman He said. “As you all have seen [after] In the third quarter, we picked him up again and won the match, and now we’re going to the championship. The work is not over yet.”
Meanwhile, Chicago faces an uncertain advantage. parker and sniping Ali Quigley (36 and both free agents coming) can decide to retire, contracts for three other major shareholders – Vandersloot, Emma Mesman And Azurá Stevens – also after this season.
“As I do every season, I will go back and re-evaluate whether I can continue to play at the level I believe in,” Parker said. “And I think that the biggest thing is that I don’t want to cheat in the game at all. I will not cheat in the game. So when I am not able to go out and play and be the Candice that I want to be, I will not play.”
Wade added, “I was proud of how we were able to defend the title. I thought we defended the title with grace and poise and I thought we were a team that represented the WNBA well. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but this is one of the funniest seasons I’ve had because of the players in that locker room.” “.