Sun eliminated by Sky in Game 4 of WNBA semifinals, 79-69

By Alexa Philippou

Head coach Curt Miller and the Connecticut Sun never shied away from talking about their franchise being in a window to win a championship this season.

After a 2019 finals run, big 2020 free agency and 2021 breakthrough season in which they secured the No. 1 overall seed going into the playoffs, it looked like this could be their year.

But against a tough matchup in the red-hot Chicago Sky playing their best basketball of the year, the visiting Sun never looked fully themselves in semifinals, and combined with the absence of Briann January due to ankle/knee issues in Game 4, it spelled a stunning elimination. The Sun fell, 79-69, to No. 6 Chicago Wednesday at Wintrust Arena in Chicago to drop the best-of-five series, 3-1, marking another disappointing finish to an otherwise promising season.

Jonquel Jones, the league MVP, finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, with a huge night from Natisha Hiedeman off the bench (16). Chicago had four double-digit scorers, led by Courtney Vandersloot (19 points, 13 in the first quarter), Kahleah Copper (18) and a near-triple double from Candace Parker (17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists). Former UConn star Azura Stevens was the fourth with 11 points.

January’s injury, which Miller said she aggravated on a missed reverse layup at the end of Game 3, was announced hours before the game, at which point she was listed as questionable. Miller said she’d be out an hour before tip, and her perimeter defense was sorely missed.

The Sun faced another early deficit again, falling behind 11 in the first quarter before Jones initiated an 8-0 run to pull Connecticut within three. The Sky finished the quarter strong and up by six, their offense managing 32 points against the Sun’s typically staunch defense. Though Jasmine Thomas’ steal and score once more made it a one-possession game early in the second, the Sky stormed ahead by 13 to finish the half, their offense having shot 58% from field and 62% on 3s.

Though Hiedeman and Jones hit a pair of early 3s to start the second and cut the deficit to seven, Chicago responded with a 11-0 spurt to go up 18. That pair hit another trio of treys, Jones sank another basket and the Sky went cold offensively for a long stretch to allow Connecticut to make it a seven-point game going into the fourth.

That was the closest the Sun would get, as the Sky kept rolling in the fourth to squash Connecticut’s championship dreams.

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