The Connecticut Sun dethroned the Chicago Sky on Thursday, while the Los Angeles Sparks ousted them in 2016.
A 5-game losing streak against the Suns that could have been snapped by the Chicago Bulls dropped them in the biggest game of the game. Chicago ultimately shot 34.3 percent from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc on Wednesday. They also squandered a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter, missing their final eight shots of the night.
“We didn’t have a quarter like that, and (that) didn’t show what we did to end the season,” coach James Wade said on ESPN. “I just wish I could get them a bucket, and I just can’t. It’s just a tough feeling.”
As the defending champs struggled to get anything going, the Suns rallied and had the perfect response to Chicago’s Kahleh Copper facing Connecticut’s Dewana Bonner. Instead of letting the tense moments and jaw-dropping get to their heads, the Suns responded with an 18-0 run over Chicago in the final 4 minutes to solidify their spot in the WNBA Finals.
All five Connecticut starters were double-digit scorers, led by Bonner and Jonkel Jones, who each had 15 points. Chicago was led by Cooper (a game-high 22 points). Emma Messeman (14 points and six rebounds) and Courtney Vandersloot (12 points, three assists, three steals) combined for 26 points. Candace Parker could muster seven points, nine boards, three steals and four blocks on just 2-7 shooting.
“It’s tough,” Wade said in the Chicago Tribune. “It’s probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had professionally – it’s hard to put into words right now. This is going to hurt me for a long time. I felt I could do a better job getting a bucket for them. I couldn’t find one.”
Chicago will want to figure out how to address their free agency concerns with Parker, Vandersloot and Ali Quigley heading into free agency and possibly Parker’s retirement. Messeman is set to hit free agency after her one-year contract expires.