Sky hold on in defensive slugfest to take Game 3 over Sun
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — With under a minute to go, the Sky’s ball movement found Emma Meesseeman inside for an easy layup, giving Chicago a 6-point lead and started the trickle of Sun fans out of Mohegan Sun Arena.
It was a slick pass from Courtney Vandersloot and it was a brief moment where the Sky broke through a relentless defensive battle with the Sun. Both defense’s held their opponents to under 40% shooting from the field, yet it was a crucial pass and lay up that sealed a 76-72 win for the Sky.
“We have to play on what we built throughout the season, and one thing we’ve pride in ourselves is playing together throughout adversity,” head coach James Wade said after the game. “We responded well to their runs. We didn’t have any lows. Even though it was a defensive and physical battle, I thought we were up for the challenge, and we came out victorious.”
There was not a single bucket scored for over 4 minutes in the final quarter until Parker blocked Brionna Jones in the paint, leading to a Meesseman jumper in the corner with 2:25 left in the game.
“Emma is one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with,” Parker said. “Add that to Sloot, who’s a playmaker. We have high IQ players. Playing beautiful basketball means that sometimes it’s going to come down to just playing and reading.”
The game went back and forth with 12 lead changes and 11 ties. The largest lead the Sky ever had was 7 points in the third quarter, and it lasted for only 3 minutes.
Chicago couldn’t find their game until the second quarter when they found some transition movement. However, shots just wouldn’t fall for either side with both teams missing wide open layups.
Wade stopped any Sun runs in their tracks with a timeout, and Connecticut head coach Curt Miller did the same thing. Neither team had a run of more than 10 points in the second half.
“I got 10 people on the sideline that I have to answer to. They make me do suicides if I try to let us go through runs,” Wade said laughing. “We don’t want them to go on runs. We breathe a little bit, get together on the sideline and come out of it ok.”
Four Sky players scored in double-figures, with Candace Parker notching her 27th career playoff double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. That double-double ties her with Tamika Catchings for most in WNBA playoff history.
Kahleah Copper was right behind her with 15 points. Courtney Vandersloot finished with 12 points while Meesseman put up 13 points, 6 assists and 5 steals; those 5 steals are a playoff career high.
Chicago is now just one win away from heading back to the WNBA Finals.
“We’ve been here before,” Copper said after the game. “We know it’s not going to be easy. We know that we need to take it one game at a time, look at this game, make the necessary adjustments, come out and play hard.”
Parker echoed the sentiment in the locker room.
“We got to be about business. Game 4 is not going to be easy. We’re going to have to grind it out.”
Game 4 will stay in Connecticut on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2.