CHICAGO (AP) — Kahleh Copper scored 20 of her 22 points in the first half and Chicago used a dominant defensive effort to break the Phoenix Mercury 86-50 record on Friday night, giving the Sky their franchise’s first win. One victory was taken away. WNBA title.
Chicago will try to close out a best-of-five series on Sunday.
“I was telling my team. I’m 0-2 in Game 4 at home,” said Candace Parker, who added 13 points. “I don’t want this to continue. We know they are a great team and they will come out and be ready. Come back stronger.”
Sky dominated both ends after scoring 29 in Mercury’s overtime win on Wednesday, placing Brittany Griner on just four first-half points on 1 for 8 shoots. Chicago also kicked Diana Taurasi out of the game, having five points on 1 out of 10 shootings. Griner finished with 16 points as both of their nights ended early in the fourth quarter as Sky maintained the lead in the twenties.
Copper set the tone early for Sky with seven points in the first quarter. He finished the game on 3 points at the end of the first quarter to lead Chicago 20-11. Copper was 5 out of 5 off the line in the quarter, a significant difference from Wednesday’s loss. Sky only attempted four free throws for the entire game.
“His energy is unmatched. His positivity is unmatched,” said Parker of Copper. “You root for him because he is a good person. When we need it she gives us a lift to the biggest platform in the world we already knew in practice every day. “
Sky didn’t slow down in the second quarter. She pushed the ball in the transition with Eli Quigley and Stephanie Dolson taking easy points in the paint to force a Mercury timeout as Sky extended a 25-11 lead with 7:20 in the second quarter. Copper continued Sky’s scoring barrage with two three-point games in just one minute of play to level them 35-16. She ended the brilliant first half with another basket and half to cut Sky 46-24.
The 22-point halftime lead matched the biggest ever lead in a WNBA Finals, equal to the mark held by the Phoenix, which was held by the Mercury in Game 1 against Chicago in 2014. That year was the last time a team was in the championship round.
“Tonight we kicked our butts,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “It’s disappointing. They were really, really aggressive. We still got some open looks and missed them. We lost momentum and they put up a lot of confidence. It shook us up a bit. We have to get better.”
Quigley finished with nine points and Courtney Vandersloot finished the game with 10 assists for Chicago.
Sky hosted the WNBA Finals for the first time since playing in the Finals in 2014. But on Friday, it saw more star power led by Parker, who starred at west suburban Naperville Central High School before jumping into the national spotlight in Tennessee and then continuing his legacy in the WNBA. She joined Sky ahead of the 2021 season and is now one win away from a remarkable homecoming.
Phoenix shot a WNBA Finals record low of 25.8% of the field (16-for-62), while Chicago was a 50% (30-for-60).
Taurasi was fined $2,500 for contacting an officer on Thursday to protest the suspension. Prior to the game, Sky head coach James Wade had not commented on the incident. “What happened? What happened? I didn’t see it in the game, so I have no comment. Whatever happens between Diana and the league happens between them. I don’t want to step into it.”
faces in the Crowd
The Sky played their best game of the season in front of a sold out crowd that included quarterback Justin Fields and hip hop artist Chance the Rapper. Head coach Doug Bruno.
More AP Women’s Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports