It was ugly, just the way Connecticut Sun Coach Kurt Miller wanted that. Maybe a little uglier than most others would like.
But seed No. 3 couldn’t buy the first vowel in “Attack” and he lost the chaotic Game 3 case hard to No. 2 seed Chicago Sky, 76-72, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Sunday. Chicago leads the best of five series, 2-1, and is one win away from returning to the WNBA Finals ending in one week. Connecticut will need to win, including in Game 4 again at the Mohegan Sun on Tuesday night.
In what will surely become a trendy mic moment, Miller asked his halftime team if they had “any suggestions for pro players stopping play?” Connecticut was 8 of 26 (30%) in paint in the first half and 18 of 48 (27.5%) by the end of the game. They scored 36 points out of 72.
DeWanna Bonner scored the highest score of 18 with 11 rebounds. Nearly half of her points were on the free-throw line in each team’s ugly shooter. The sun was 36.8% and the sky was 37.1%.
The Sun won the first game by making it “messy,” in Miller’s words, and it’s often the team that scores ugly wins. But it usually comes with some strong humiliation that was absent on Sunday. Few buckets made and Connecticut will be about to make it into the Finals.
How can the sun survive the semi-finals
Courtney Williams missed quick ball kicks early, Bonner went out without successive transition rounds and Alyssa Thomas missed six goals low in the half. The offense had a rough time as quarterback Jonkel Jones was called up 6-6 for a three-second breach as he smashed the ball against Rebecca Gardner, the Sky’s 6-1 goalkeeper. And several times in the third, passes went out of bounds with no white shirt anywhere near the goal. They had 17 turns.
Jones, the tournament’s MVP, played limited minutes and wasn’t on the field over the length of a four-point competition. She returned in less than a minute when the deficit increased to eight. Jones scored six points (3 of 10) and eight rebounds in 24 minutes.
Williams missed some points early, but hit the free throw line and collected 26 points with backcourt teammate Natisha Heydemann (5 of 9). It was the guards’ strongest performance in the semi-finals and a necessity while Jones and Thomas struggled. They shot 6 of 22 for 12 points.
Sun needs clear, simple shots to force the crucial fifth game in Chicago. They were 5 of 12 of 3 and +11 on the boards.
Sky Move is one of the final game
It was, at times, as ugly as the sky. Chicago had chances to fold, but never could until the last minutes. Even after they pushed the lead to eight, the sun went into a basket at the 22-second mark.
There were no offensive performances for the star in Game Three. They successfully shut down Jonquel Jones and collapsed onto the paint, making every shot and fainting difficult. Year 6 player of the year Brianna Jones didn’t do much better in the bucket division (4 out of 11), though she did make it to the free-throw line and finished with 12 points.
Candice Parker put in another double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The stat player added four passes and three blocks. She hit her eye in the first quarter and hit her knees with Thomas in the third.
The Jahiliya Cooper scored 15 points, nine of them in the fourth-breaking place. Emma Meissman scored 13 and Courtney Vanderslot scored 12.
The good news for Chicago is that they’ve done enough Sun-style play to win and dominate the series. There were 12 lead changes and 11 draws.
WNBA semi-final table
Game 1: Sun 68, Sky 63
Game 2: Sky 85, Sun 77
The third game: Sky 76, Sun 72 (Sky LED, 2-1)
Game 4: Tuesday, Chicago, Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Game 5*, Thursday, Connecticut in Chicago, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2