Chicago Sky, ranked 6th, not only got the win it needed to open the semifinals, but also ended the hottest series 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 overtimes. Game 2 is back Thursday at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
Courtney Vandersloot joined Sheryl Swoopes as the only player to 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 a playoff record 18 assists.
It was Connecticut’s first defeat since August 12 in the championship game of the Commissioner’s Cup. They were on a franchise record winning streak of 14 games that went into Game 1, their first of the postseason after a double-bye and a 10-day hiatus. The Sun went 15-1 at home that season and their high level defense averaged 69 points per game.
Candace Parker delivered a great assist from Vandersloot and Stefanie Dolson provided another Vandersloot assist 45 seconds later led by four points in the middle of the second extension. It was the biggest advantage of both overtime.
The Sky are vying to become the first team seeded worse than the third to reach the WNBA finals. Neither team has won a championship.
Parker raced against Sky with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists. Allie Quigley scored 19 points, hitting 3 of 7 3-pointers, and Kahleah Copper added 13 points. Azura Stevens scored eight goals, while Dolson, Astou Ndour-Fall and Diamond DeShields all scored nine goals.
Connecticut suffered a cold streak in extra time and failed to overcome a Sky defense that fell with the game on the line tightened. Both teams were visibly tired in the course of extra time. It was only the fifth double overtime game in the history of the WNBA playoffs.
The sun had a chance of winning it, with the first two times running out of time. They blew the regular clock to death only to have DeWanna Bonner take a forced throw. After the last possession of the first extra time, they forced a rally, but almost fumbled it themselves in midfield. Rather than attempting a shot near the 3-point line, Brionna Jones ricocheted off her defender to bring him to Jonquel Jones when time ran out Free-throw line blatantly worrying. They were 17 to 21, a lead that could have given them victory in the regulations. As a team, they were 37.8% off the ground while the Sky shot nearly 50%.
Jonquel Jones, who was named MVP earlier in the day, scored one with 11 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal Team high of 26 points. But the sun didn’t get its good grade in the second extension. Brionna Jones, named Most Improved Player, scored 22 points with 10 rebounds. And Bonner added 13 points.
Copper had a chance to give Sky the late lead, but missed the first of their three free throws and equalized instead. Chicago’s defense forced Bonner to throw-and-bet when the forced overtime time ran out.
Sky used a 7-0 run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to create the largest with 73:67 To achieve leadership at halftime. Quigley made two free throws while the Bigs Ndour-Fall and Dolson dared to look closer to the bow. Dolson’s 3-pointer to an assist from Quigley closed the streak, forcing the Sun to time out. Connecticut never came closer than two points for the remainder of the game until Jonquel Jones scored two free throws, the first of which was almost was marginalized, amid « MVP » chants at Mohegan Sun. It tied it, 82-82, to play with 90 seconds.
The Sun Defense forced Parker to take a hard shot that blew up after the clock ran out, and Brionna Jones secured an offensive rebound and putback for the Sun, who made it 84-82 before Copper’s free throws.
The Sky played at their pace and took the lead over a quarter with 24-21. The Sun got on the show, averaging 16.3 points in the first quarter, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Connecticut took its first lead of the game, 36-34, on a Bonner bucket with three minutes to go. DeShields scored seven points in five minutes to keep Chicago with the thinnest lead at 47:46 at halftime.
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