The first day of semifinals action in the WNBA Playoffs delivered in a big way on Sunday, as both games went down to the wire and both road teams pulling out gritty, tough victories.
After the Storm took Game 1 in Las Vegas, it was the Sun’s turn to play spoiler in Chicago, as they fought off a legendary Candace Parker performance to earn a 68-63 win to steal homecourt in the series. Early on it was clear we were in for a slugfest, which seemed to bode well for Connecticut, as playing a slower, more physical style plays into their hands. Leading the way for the Sun to start was Alyssa Thomas, as the veteran went to work inside to push Connecticut to an 19-16 lead after the first quarter.
On the other side, it was Candace Parker doing a bit of everything as she had nine points and eight rebounds in the first half, carrying the load for the Sky alongside Kahleah Copper, as Chicago tied things up at 34 in a low-scoring first half.
The Sun would take control in the third as they finally started to see some jump shots go down on a night where neither team had their best shooting stroke.
Connecticut led by eight going into the fourth quarter, but the Sky would fight back in the fourth to take a one-point lead, once again led by Parker and Copper, who shared one of the moments of the game with Courtney Williams as neither player would let go of the ball after a fourth quarter tie-up, earning technicals in the process.
The Sun would push back in front by three thanks to buckets by Brionna Jones and Thomas.
Fittingly, it was Parker who hit the game-tying three to knot things up again at 60-60
Jones would hit another layup to push the Sun in front, but Emma Meeseman hit her second three of the night to give Chicago a one-point edge with just over two minutes to play. That would be the last time the Sky scored, however, and a Jonquel Jones bucket ended up being the game-winner for the Sun, as their defense would prevent the Sky from getting clean looks at the rim in the final two minutes, with a pair of free throws and a runout layup from DeWanna Bonner icing the game.
Parker was the unquestionable star of the game, putting up 19 points, 18 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and four steals on the night, doing everything she could to carry the Sky to a win — and making history in the process.
Candace Parker is the first player in WNBA history to have at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks in a playoff game.
— Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) August 29, 2022
But she simply didn’t get enough help on this night, with Copper scoring 13, but only four in the second half, and Meeseman as the only other member of the Sky to reach double figures with 10 points. Quigley and Vandersloot went a combined 5-for-18 from the field for 12 points as pretty much non-factors, and that is going to have to change if the Sky are going to turn things around in this series.
On the other side, the Sun were led by their bigs. Bonner led the team with 15 points (4-of-16 shooting), nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals, while Thomas, Jonquel Jones, and Brionna Jones all had 12 points each — Thomas also had 10 rebounds and seven assists. That neither backcourt could get going is a testament to each’s ball pressure and defensive acumen, but in this series, games that turn into frontcourt battles are going to lean towards the Sun, even with how great Parker can be.
Going forward, the Sky will have to figure out how to get their guards some quality looks early on the perimeter, and find a way to be better on the glass for everyone other than Parker, as they were outrebounded by 11 in Game 1.