Uncasville, CT -- The WNBA regular season came to a close for the Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun on Sunday afternoon. Chicago had already clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and although Connecticut's season was ending after Sunday's game, they refused to go down without a fight. The Sun shone a little brighter, defeating the Sky, 86-75.
"When you've lost as many in a row as we have and have gone through a season like we have, it's tough," said Kelsey Bone. "But you look up and see this arena filled, knowing we aren't going to the playoffs, and these fans are still out here supporting you, it means a lot and you have to go out and figure it out. That was my mentality, go out and end with a bang."
The Sky jumped out to a 22-19 lead after the first quarter behind a relatively balanced attack of scorers. It was unclear whether or not Delle Donne, the league's new leading scorer, would play due to a foot injury, but she made her presence known throughout the second quarter.
Delle Donne went into the half having already scored 19 points as Chicago held on to a 47-42 lead. Connecticut managed to keep it close in the first half, with 18 points by Kelsey Bone, which allowed for their strong comeback in the second half.
Bone and Jasmine Thomas exchanged jump shots to start the third quarter, followed by a layup by Bone, pulling the Sun within one of Chicago at the 8:47 mark. Connecticut broke ahead with 8:13 remaining as Camille Little drilled a three-pointer to give the Sun a 51-49 advantage.
Both teams traded baskets back and forth throughout the quarter, which saw six lead changes. Delle Donne hit two key three-pointers in the quarter to keep the Sky within striking range, and headed into the fourth quarter with 27 points. Chicago held a 66-64 lead with 1:32 remaining after a Clarissa Dos Santos layup, but with just one second left in the quarter, Chelsea Gray nailed a jump shot to tie the game, 66-66.
The fourth quarter was all about Bone. She started off scoring four quick points, but it was her "and-one" reverse layup that sparked a fire within the Sun. With five minutes left on the game clock, Allie Quigley nailed a three-pointer to bring the Sky back within five, but a string of fouls allowed Connecticut to continue to build on their lead.
The Sun pulled ahead 82-73 after a Kelly Faris free throw with 3:46 remaining, prompting a timeout by the Sky. Chicago continued to struggle from the floor, missing two jump shots and allowing Connecticut to convert on offensive rebounds. At the 2:25 mark, the Sky replaced its lineup, with Connecticut following suit with 57.5 seconds remaining.
Both teams shot exactly 6-for-17 from behind the arc on the game, with Chicago holding a rebounding advantage, 36-32. The Sun's Kelsey Bone led all scorers with 31 points, with teammate Camille Little finishing with 15 points. Alyssa Thomas was just shy of a double-double for Connecticut, adding nine points and nine rebounds.
"She is such a powerful presence inside," said Delle Donne. "You can never just guard her with one person because if you do she is going to make you pay for it. I do not think we did a good enough job helping off of her, because she is not player you can guard one on one."
The Sky was led by Delle Donne, who finished with 28 points and five rebounds. No other player scored in double figures for Chicago, but Erika de Souza was close to that double-double mark, with nine points and nine rebounds, as well.
The Sun finishes their season 15-19, but does take the series lead with Chicago for the year, 3-2.