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Sun is ready to ‘finish the mission’ after advancing to the WNBA Finals with an impressive Game 5 win over Sky

CHICAGO – Odyssey Sims walked down the sideline and put her hand to her ear like a WWE wrestler listening to the roar of the crowd, but nothing stood in her way. Stunned by what they had just witnessed, the majority inside the Wintrust Arena fell silent. Only the Connecticut Sun and its small legion of fans made noise.

During the final seven minutes and 20 seconds of Thursday night’s winner-take-all Game 5 semifinals, the Sun outscored the defending champion Chicago Sky 22-2 at home to win 72-63 and steal a trip to the WNBA Finals. . It was such a surprising and unlikely comeback that even those involved had trouble processing it in the immediate aftermath.

Sun assistant coach Brandi Poole was speechless as she walked out of the locker room with the rest of the cheery coaching staff and hugged members of the team’s traveling party. “I don’t know how that happened,” she said.

The feeling of disbelief was the same in the opposing locker room. “It’s tough,” said Sky head coach James Wade. “It’s probably one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever had professionally. It’s hard to put into words right now…This is probably going to hurt me for a long time.”

In a contest worthy of this series, Game 5 was a real scrap that focused less on basketball skill and execution and more on grit, pride and determination. The former can be a problem at times for the Sun, but they have shown that they have a lot of the latter.

After a disastrous third quarter in which they had as many points — eight — as turnovers, the Sun trailed by 11 early in the quarter. They could, and probably should have, and were minutes away from facing another early playoff exit and an offseason filled with tough questions. It was at that moment that they decided to take a stand. Instead of letting things get out of control, they focused on the positives, committed to working harder than heaven, and slowly began to unravel.

Finally, with just under four minutes to go, they found their breakthrough. On the second of two offensive rebounds on a possession, DeWanna Bonner converted a y-one and let out a yelp. Kahleah Copper didn’t enjoy the display of emotion, and the two got involved, exchanging words and a brief push.

The referees reviewed the situation and did not add any additional punishment, probably because assessing a double tackle would have ejected Copper (who was already on a tackle) from the game. But although Sky was lucky with the referees’ decision, the damage had already been done.

“I think the momentum shifted with the whole trade and Copper review,” Alyssa Thomas told CBS Sports. “Right there was everything we needed to give us the final push. After that, there was no going back.”

The Sun did not allow a single point the rest of the way, overwhelming Heaven with relentless defensive pressure during its final charge. They made numerous impressive defensive plays, including a monstrous rejection by Jonquel Jones that started the game-tying fast break with 2:24 left. After Natisha Hiedeman outed Courtney Vandersloot for a fumble on the ensuing possession, Jones converted one and one to put the Sun in front for good.

“Yeah, that was a nice check,” Jones told CBS Sports. “That was a test of resilience, a test of the mentality and attitude of the team. It means a lot, not only because of the way we won, but because of the team that we beat – the team that is the former champion and a really tough team. “. For us to go out there and impose our will and when things weren’t going the way we wanted to stay together, it was a great moment of growth for us as a team.”

Over the final 7:20, Sun shot 7-for-12 from the field and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. On the other hand, they forced three turnovers (four if you include the jumper between two they forced and then won when Sky had possession), blocked two shots and limited Sky to 1 of 11 from the field.

Now, they are in the final for the first time since 2019 and the fourth time in franchise history; The team’s first title is once again within reach, but they’ll have to go through the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces to get it.

“It’s going to be a battle of wills,” Jones said. “I’m very excited about that. We’ve been here before. We’ve been here in 2019, the last four years in the semifinals. It’s time for us to finish the mission. It’s time for us to get the job done.” .”


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