Chicago, IL — With their backs against the wall facing elimination, the Phoenix Mercury came out strong against the Chicago Sky. After Friday’s blowout, Phoenix only had one way to respond: come out hungry. And they fought like no other but late down the stretch in the fourth, Chicago fed off of its crowd and unselfish basketball up and down the Sky’s roster.
While it looked like Phoenix was going to force Game 5, they could not as the Chicago Sky hoisted up the 2021 WNBA Championship Title. But it was by far easy for Chicago to take Game 4.
The first quarter for the Mercury was dominated by Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi. Both players were establishing themselves early. On the opposing end, Azurá Stevens and Allie Quigley were trading baskets to keep Chicago in the game. As the period continued, tempers started flaring as Taurasi was hit with a technical, and then just under a minute later, Kahleah Copper received one too. The Sky responded first to take the lead, yet Phoenix continued to stay hungry and by the end of the quarter, held the 28-25 lead.
Defensively both teams tightened up overall in the second. However, Chicago still hands its hands full trying to contain Griner. Regardless if she was on the block, mid-post or high post, she was knocking down shots to keep the lead for the Mercury. The Sky didn’t lay down as they still pushed back.
By intermission, Phoenix still held the lead 44-37.
Candance Parker continued to reiterate to her team in the third period to calm down and play their game. Their deficit started to get bigger as they found themselves down 59-45. As calm as she was talking to her team, Parker started a run Chicago needed. She knocked down a three, stole the ball from Skylar Diggins-Smith then knocked down a jumper. Phoenix called a timeout to try and cool down Parker and silence the crowd — it didn’t work.
Courtney Vandersloot blocked Shey Peddy and pushed the ball up the court. Parker was fouled on a layup attempt and put at the line. In a blink of an eye, the Sky was only down seven, 59-52.
Momentum did start to shift to Chicago, but the Mercury’s big three kept their composure — and the lead 63-54 — to close the third.
The fourth period was all about who had the will to close the game on the strongest run. Early on the most sensational player on the court for the Sky was Quigley. There has been a lot of praise for Parker being the hometown kid, but Quigley is too. She hit back-to-back triples to pull within five of Phoenix.
But the fire of Diggins-Smith could not be extinguished, as Phoenix adjusted defensively and placed the fiesty guard on Quigley. Diggins-Smith was in her shorts and picked up two huge offensive fouls against Quigley.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, missed layups came back to haunt them just like Game 3. Diggins-Smith, Taurasi, and Brianna Turner all missed close shots and Chicago capitalized, specifically Stefanie Dolson who was on the benefitting end of Courtney Vandersloot’s pass to take the lead, 72-76.
Taurasi was fouled on a three-point attempt with 42 seconds left, but she only made two. In the next possession, Vandersloot hit a clutch seven-footer to essentially seal the game. Phoenix tried to respond but missed and Vandersloot hit two free throws as the Mercury was forced to foul.
In an exciting WNBA Finals, Chicago claimed its first-ever WNBA Championship with a final score of 80-74. On the backs of Vandersloot, Copper’s exciting series play, Dolson’s clutch shots, and the phenomenal play of the hometown kids, Parker and Quigley the Sky are the champs.
Griner was absolutely stellar for Phoenix despite the loss; she finished with a game-high 28 points, seven rebounds on 12-for-19 from the field. Both Taurasi and Diggins-Smith finished with 16 apiece.
Quigley led Chicago with 26 points while Finals MVP, Copper chipped in with 10 points. Vandersloot finished with a near triple-double of 10 points, 15 assists, and nine rebounds. And the centerpiece of it all, Parker stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals, one block, and the leadership of a true champion.