“Messiness” was the Connecticut Sun’s paraphrased game plan revealed by head coach Curt Miller post-game on Wednesday. Sunday’s matinee Game 3 matchup between the Sun and Chicago Sky contained a mess that was perhaps outside the scope of Miller’s definition. The Sky overcame the Sun by a score of 76-72 – however, both teams played some rather discombobulated ball. The Sun committed 17 turnovers which would imply the Sky would have plenty of opportunities to widen the lead. That did not happen.
“Free-flowing, back-cutting, a lot of cutting – it’s very pretty when they get it going. They imposed their will…We did not make it messy enough,” Miller said on the Sky’s gameplay during a post-game conference after Game 2. A rough application of these comments could apply to Game 3, the act of will-imposing pending.
“We know that Connecticut is a physical team,” Candace Parker said during a post-game conference on Sunday afternoon. Parker also notched another postseason double-double. “We knew Game 3 was going to be a grind.”
The Sky ultimately found themselves victorious due to defense. Chicago has forced 30 Connecticut turnovers over the past two games. After today’s game, the Sky lead the playoffs with 52 steals, nine ahead of Connecticut. In this game, 30 defensive rebounds, 12 steals, and four blocks would help stifle any runs by the Sun.
“We responded well to their runs,” coach James Wade told reporters. “We didn’t have any lows. It was a defensive and physical battle, but we were up for the challenge.”
Despite being the top two teams in field goal percentage during the regular season, the Sky and Sun combined to shoot 27-for-75 (36.0%) in the first half. Chicago managed to put up just 37.1% from the field and a lackluster 24% from three. Just five offensive boards would have sealed the Sky’s fate; the Sun had twice as many.
The slump from three also continued; Allie Quigley shot 1 for 7 from three. However, the Sky isn’t the only team suffering from three woes. Heading into Game 3, all four Semi-Finals teams are shooting 29.0% (45-for-155) from three-point range through the first four Semi-Finals games.
Kahleah Copper had a lethargic first half, where her shots did not seem to fall. There was a scary moment in the third quarter where Copper took a knee to her chest from a leaping Courtney Williams. Copper remained on the floor underneath the basket for a few moments, but returned to the game where she appeared to look better with connecting on layups.
The Sky’s front court continued to shine. Emma Meesseman had her second straight excellent game on both sides of the court. Defensively, she was partially responsible for holding DeWanna Bonner to shooting 4 for 14 from the field. Meesseman was also named player of the game, for putting up 13 points, six assists, and five of the Sky’s 12 steals. Maggie Hendricks of Bally Sports asked Meesseman if guarding Jonquel Jones was fun, as Meesse did an excellent job of limiting Jones in the paint during Wednesday’s Game 2.
“It all depends on how many bruises I have tomorrow,” Meesseman answered with a wry smile.
“Job’s not finished,” as Candace Parker said post-game. The Sky are now one win away from bringing back to back finals to Chicago. For now, they’ll stick around Uncasville, Connecticut for a bit longer. The telltale Game 4 of the WNBA Semi-Finals will take place on Tuesday, September 6 at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET.
As is then, always, and forever: Sky in four.