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Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley #14, Candace Parker #3 and Kahleah Copper #2 walk onto the court after a timeout when the Connecticut Sun took the lead during the 4th quarter of Game 5 of the 2022 WNBA semifinals Thursday evening at Wintrust Arena.

Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley #14, Candace Parker #3 and Kahleah Copper #2 walk onto the court after a timeout when the Connecticut Sun took the lead during the 4th quarter of Game 5 of the 2022 WNBA semifinals Thursday evening at Wintrust Arena.

Ashlee Rezin

Sky blow big lead late in loss to Sun, ending effort to repeat as WNBA champs

Game 5 was a near eclipse of the Sun right up until the final four minutes when the Sky unraveled, blowing a 10-point lead and missing their last seven shots.

Their final field goal of the game came with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter.

And that horrific fourth quarter, in which the Sky were outscored 24-5, ended their repeat title hopes in 72-63 loss Thursday at Wintrust Arena in what could have been Candace Parker’s and Allie Quigley’s final game in the WNBA and Courtney Vandersloot’s last in Chicago.

“[Returning to Chicago] has meant a lot,” Parker said. “Chicago always holds a special place in my heart. Being from here is special. We’ve seen the way this city supports and has supported us.”

It might be too early to talk about legacies, but if this was in fact these three players last game here (all three become unrestricted free agents, along with Emma Meesseman and Azura Stevens), their legacy will be winning a title that brought the WNBA relevancy in a saturated sports market.

Vandersloot and Quigley are the franchise’s longest-tenured players, while Parker is the people’s champ.

“You go from a really high high to coming back, feeling like we should be in that same position again,” Vandersloot said. “To have it end the way it did is a hard pill to swallow.”

Coach James Wade’s team looked to Parker to set the tone in the first quarter. Thereason is clear, considering her dominance this postseason. But after she was held scoreless in the opening 10 minutes, her teammates, led by Kahleah Copper, picked up the slack.

Game 5 looked a lot like Game 4 until the Sky woke up. The Sun jumped out to a nine-point lead in the first quarter but instead of rolling over, the Sky rose up.

It started with a no-look pass from Quigley to open the second quarter and continued on a three-pointer from Vandersloot. The Sky continued to roll in the third quarterm sparked by a Copper and-one, assisted by Parker.

The Sky outscored the Sun 18-8 in the third quarter of play, but were outscored 24-5 in the fourth, including an 19-0 run to end the game, and with 20 seconds left in the game, fans started to leave. Copper and Meesseman were the only two players to score in the final 10 minutes of play.

Copper finished with a game-high 22 points and Meesseman added 14.

In the last two years, the Sky haven’t faced a tougher test. Thursday was the franchise’s first Game 5 scenario and their opponent had their number.

Thursday’s loss was just the second back-to-back loss of the season for the Sky.

“I want this on the record,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “We’ve knocked Candace Parker out of the playoffs three of the last four years.”

Miller was emphasizing the strength of his frontcourt combination of Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones. Those three combined for 23 of the Sun’s 43 rebounds, 15 more than the Sky.

The Sky’s big three were held to a combined 22 points. Vandersloot had 12, Parker had seven, and Quigley had three.

Game 1 of the WNBA Finals tips off at 2 p.m. Sunday in Las Vegas. The No. 1 Aces secured home-court advantage after defeating the Seattle Storm in four games in their semifinal series.

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