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Copper pours in the points, Parker blocks Thomas late to put Sky one win away from Finals

Led by Kahleah Copper and a clutch play from Candace Parker, the Chicago Sky went up 2-1 in their semifinal series against the Connecticut Sun with a thrilling victory at home.

2021 WNBA Semifinals - Connecticut Sun v Chicago Sky - Game Three
Kahleah Copper expanded the Sky’s ability to threaten from outside by not leaving Allie Quigley as the team’s only option from beyond the arc.
Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Kahleah Copper scored 26 points and Candace Parker, playing in her first semifinal home game as a member of her hometown Sky, blocked an Alyssa Thomas shot that would have tied the game with 2.5 seconds remaining, allowing Chicago to hold on for an 86-83 victory that put them up 2-1 on the No. 1 seed Connecticut Sun with a Game 4 in Chicago coming up on Wednesday night.

The Sun started the fourth on a 5-0 run that gave them an eight-point lead, but the Sky responded with an 18-4 run to take their largest lead of the fourth at 80-74. Four-straight points from A. Thomas then cut Connecticut’s deficit to two. A couple minutes later, with 18 seconds remaining, A. Thomas had a shot that would have given the Sun a one-point lead go in and out. Connecticut stole the ball from Allie Quigley on the ensuing possession but Briann January missed a difficult reverse layup in transition and Courtney Vandersloot rebounded the ball, was fouled and made one of two free throws to push Chicago’s lead to two.

Quigley finished with 21 points and Chicago was able to do a better job of knocking down jump shots than it did in Game 2, with her and Copper combining to go 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. Azurá Stevens notched 15 points and 11 rebounds and Parker, whose home game resume this postseason also includes a near-triple-double in the first round, was good for 10 and 10. Meanwhile, Courtney Vandersloot dished out a game-high 13 assists to go along with her seven points.

The first quarter saw 38 points scored and the second saw 34. That increased to 51 in the third, during which Quigley made three triples to the delight of the Chicago crowd. DeWanna Bonner added two threes in the frame and Copper, January and Natisha Hiedeman each had one. Hiedeman’s came with 6.3 seconds left before the fourth and gave the Sun a three-point lead entering the final frame.

The Sun controlled most of the first half, but Quigley broke out of a shooting slump with a trey that gave the Sky a two-point lead at the 1:34 mark of the second. Bonner answered with her second triple of the game and then Copper capped a 3-point flurry, putting the Sky up two at the break.

Connecticut’s largest lead of the second (five) came after a Diamond DeShields flagrant foul on Bonner, who sunk the two free throws. The Sun retained possession after that but failed to extend their lead to seven or eight.

The Sun went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter to take a six-point lead. They led 21-17 at the end of the frame and then the Sky came back to tie it at 23 on a Stevens triple 2:41 into the second.

The Sky got off to leads of 5-0, 12-7 and 13-8, but couldn’t create a bigger advantage than that early on because Connecticut’s shot-blockers were all over Stevens down low.

Six of Chicago’s first eight points came on a three apiece for Parker and Copper.

Bonner finished with 22 points, A. Thomas had 18, January had 11 and four assists and league MVP Jonquel Jones had 10, 10 boards and four blocks. Bonner and January combined to go 7-of-9 from distance.