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18-0 closing run sends Sun to WNBA Finals, KOs Sky

Oct 2, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; A game ball waits on a sanitation cart during game 1 of the WNBA finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting Connecticut Sun scored the final 18 points in the decisive Game 5 of the WNBA semifinals on Thursday, eliminating the defending champion Chicago Sky 72-63 to earn a trip to the WNBA Finals.

DeWanna Bonner and Jonquel Jones each scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures for Connecticut. Jones’ three-point play with two minutes left gave the Sun the lead for good at 66-63.

Connecticut also got 14 points from Natisha Hiedeman plus 12 each from Alyssa Thomas and Courtney Williams. The Sun overcame 23 turnovers by dominating the boards 43-28 and canning all 16 of their foul shots.

Thomas and Jones grabbed 10 boards apiece while Bonner pulled down nine.

Third-seeded Connecticut travels to top-seeded Las Vegas to open the championship series on Sunday.

Kahleah Copper scored a game-high 22 points for second-seeded Chicago, while Emma Meesseman added 14 and Courtney Vandersloot had 12. But seven-time All-Star Candace Parker, a two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player, was held to seven points. Parker did grab a team-high nine rebounds.

Connecticut raced out to a quick first-quarter lead, much as it did when it rolled to a 104-80 home win on Tuesday night in Game 4. The margin was nine late in the period before the Sun took a 24-16 advantage to the second quarter.

Chicago rallied in the second, producing an 11-4 burst, with seven of the points from Copper, to move in front 38-36. Bonner made a layup as time expired to forge a 40-40 tie at halftime.

The Sky appeared to take command in the third quarter, holding Connecticut to just eight points. When Meesseman converted a driving layup with 9.2 seconds left, Chicago owned a 58-48 lead.

Copper’s basket with 4:56 to go put the hosts up 63-54, but the Sky never scored again, missing their last eight shots. Hiedeman’s hoop with 2:24 left tied the score ahead of Jones’ three-point play.

Bonner sealed the outcome by shooting 4-for-4 from the foul line in the last 21 seconds.

The Sun are 0-3 in previous trips to the WNBA Finals. The Aces are in the Finals for the first time since moving to Las Vegas in 2018. The franchise lost in the title round in 2008 when it was the San Antonio Silver Stars.

–Field Level Media