Sky get statement win, beat Eastern Conference-leading Sun 81-75
The Sky are 5-0 with Candace Parker, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Five Sky players finished in double figures, including Kahleah Copper, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.
Entering the game Thursday against the Connecticut Sun, Sky coach and general manager James Wade said he wanted to see a full 40 minutes from his team.
The offense lacked a spark in the first half, but the Sky adjusted at the break, and the defense carried the day.
Capitalizing on a few key stops and Sun breakdowns in the second half, the Sky beat the Sun 81-75 to win their fourth in a row.
“We got our swag back,” Kahleah Copper said.
The Sky (6-7) are 5-0 when Candace Parker plays. She finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Five Sky players finished in double digits.
It still wasn’t a complete 40 minutes. This time, the Sky’s lulls came in the first half, not the second.
The Sun (8-4), who lead the Eastern Conference, held the Sky to 30 points and under 40% shooting in the first half, playing lockdown pick-and-roll defense. But the Sky scored 51 points in the second half.
“The Sun are a grind-it-out team,” Parker said. “They’re going to make you take shots you don’t necessarily want. I think we came back in the second and played better, but I think we’re capable of playing a better first half.”
The offensive success in the second half is what Wade expected from the team when Parker signed in February. He said a large number of their sets were drawn up with her in mind. So her ankle injury meant a huge adjustment for the team.
Despite the Sky’s seven-game skid with Parker out, playing without her allowed others to step up. With her back, the Sky are confident they can survive adversity.
For the first time all season, Wintrust Arena was open to full capacity, and fans who are vaccinated did not have to wear masks.
With less than two minutes left in the game, the crowd erupted as Courtney Vandersloot was fouled going to the rim. She sank the one-and-one, extending the Sky’s lead to 13.
Entering the game, the Sun were second in the WNBA in percentage of points off turnovers. The Sky turned it over 12 times, one of their lowest marks this season.
The Sun were coming off a 23-point loss to the Storm and their first game without leading scorer Jonquel Jones, who’s averaging 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
In their second game without Jones and first without coach Curt Miller, who took a leave of absence to attend to a family matter, the Sun came out of halftime looking flat offensively.
The Sun’s second-leading scorer, Dewanna Bonner, pulled down 10 rebounds but was held to 10 points.