Sun jump on Sky early, force Game 5
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Sun took a 17 point lead in the first quarter, and that was all they needed.
The Sun had an answer for every adjustment the Sky made heading into the contest as they force a Game 5, 104-80.
“We couldn’t match what they gave early on, and it put us on our heels,” Sky head coach James Wade said after the game. “So we were playing catch-up, and it scattered us a little bit. When you scatter a team and keep us wide, it kept us a little slow. They were able to get layups on the backside. From that point, it was just an uphill battle.”
Connecticut led 22-6 early in the first quarter. Chicago started to chip away to narrow it as much as 8 points thanks to an Allie Quigley 3-pointer at the buzzer, but shots just weren’t falling early for the Sky. Candace Parker tried to keep morale high after a timeout, forcing the bench to communicate.
“At the end of the day, we have to find ways to have that high energy and not rely on having our backs against the wall,” Wade said. “It’s a single elimination game now but kind of hoped that we would’ve played like it was one today.”
The second quarter is when Connecticut found their offensive groove, scoring 20 points in the paint compared to Chicago’s 8 points. Defensively, the Sky looked discombobulated and lacked communication; it showed in the 9 turnovers that turned into 14 Sun points in the first half.
“Just too many details that we missed,” Quigley said. “We weren’t doing what we were supposed to do. We missed people behind us. We let them go backdoor. We just had too many moments when we just weren’t there and weren’t ready. We just weren’t focused.”
There were some things just not going Chicago’s way, including lack of contact calls. The physicality has been present all series long, yet Chicago only saw the free throw line 5 times in the first half compared to Connecticut’s 13 attempts.
“It was called a little different tonight. We weren’t used to that, but I’m not complaining about it,” Wade said. “We have to play the way we play. At the end of the day, we have to put our will into the game and let it turn the way we’re supposed to turn it.”
Coming out of halftime, Quigley had some electricity, bouncing around before taking the court to start the second half. The Sky weren’t going away, answering every bucket Connecticut had with some driving inside from Courtney Vandersloot or a couple of 3-pointers.
Courtney Williams started a late 11-3 Sun run that sealed the victory for Connecticut, scoring 8 straight points on a baseline running backdoor cut inside on 4 straight possessions. From that point on, it was too much for the Sky as Wade put his bench in to start the 4th quarter.
“We just got to stay together and have that mentality that we’re not going to lose,” Quigley said firmly. “We’re going to do everything we can to win. We’re going to be more focused on the details and just have more energy than them. We’re going to stay together. That’s the main thing.”
Candace Parker made history in the loss, grabbing rebound No. 599 in the playoffs, making her the all-time leader in playoff rebounds in the WNBA. With her 11 points, she moved into the No. 2 spot in all-time playoff points list, passing Tamika Catchings in both categories.
Kahleah Copper led the Sky in scoring with 16 points followed by Emma Meesseman’s 14 points and 6 assists. Quigley, Vandersloot and Dana Evans all chipped in with 10 points each.
Game 5 will be back at Wintrust Arena on Thursday, Sept. 8. Tip time is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.