The Connecticut Sun set a positive tone in the WNBA Semifinals, toppling the Chicago Sky on the road in Game 1. However, Connecticut lost the next two games, including a home tilt in Game 3. That mini-skid left the Sun one game away from potential elimination.
On Tuesday evening, the Sun responded in kind, zooming to a double-digit lead in the early going and holding off the Sky for a 104-80 victory that set up a Game 5 in Chicago. The Sky took control immediately, using a 22-6 opening run that included eight straight points. Chicago turned the ball over four times in the first five minutes, with Connecticut making nine of its first 14 shots from the floor.
8-0 run over the last 1:28 for the @ConnecticutSun
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 7, 2022
— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) September 7, 2022
Connecticut’s 16-point lead was slashed to a 30-22 margin by the end of the first quarter, and it felt as if Chicago may be leveling the playing field after the early barrage. Between quarters, Sky standout Kahleah Cooper expressed frustration, and almost bewilderment, about the slow start with the opportunity to advance to the WNBA Finals.
Alyssa Thomas was a huge factor for the Sun in the early going, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds in the opening period, but the Sky managed to cut the deficit to as few as five points at 38-33. Almost on cue, Connecticut used a 10-2 run to break away and, after a brief period of stabilization by Chicago, the Sun closed the first half on another 10-3 run that was punctuated by a buzzer-beater from DiJonai Carrington to give the Sun a 17-point halftime lead.
DiJonai Carrington at the halftime buzzer!
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) September 7, 2022
Connecticut shot 59.5 percent from the floor in the first half, and the team’s defense forced nine turnovers that led directly to 14 points. While the margin was not insurmountable for the visiting Sky, the big run necessary to close the gap never materialized. Chicago was unable to mount a push early in the third quarter, and a late-quarter flurry pushed Connecticut into an even more favorable position.
In the final seconds of the third quarter, DeWanna Bonner buried a three-pointer with two seconds remaining and Odyssey Sims ended the quarter with a steal and a bucket before the buzzer to put Connecticut up by 22 points.
AND ANOTHER ONE!
This time it is Sims at the buzzer for the @ConnecticutSun
— WNBA (@WNBA) September 7, 2022
From there, the Sun were never again in serious danger, extending the lead to a 93-66 and seemingly slamming the door for good. With Candace Parker returning to the game, the Sky produced a run of 11 consecutive points, forcing Connecticut into a timeout with fewer than five minutes remaining. The home team immediately converted a three-pointer on the first possession, though, and that quieted any remaining murmurs of a potential comeback.
It was a balanced and impressive effort from the Sun on both ends of the floor. Connecticut flummoxed Chicago on the defensive end, forcing 15 turnovers and holding the Sky to only three offensive rebounds. On offense, the Sun shot 57 percent from the floor and 16-for-20 at the free throw line, with seven players scoring at least nine points each.
For the Sky, the message will likely be to forget this game and, in particular, the lopsided margin. Chicago hosts Game 5 on Thursday, and that home-court advantage could prove useful on the biggest stage. Still, Connecticut likely gained confidence with this complete performance in a must-win spot, and all eyes will be on the series finale with a trip to the WNBA Finals on the line in less than 48 hours.