Azura Stevens on Candace Parker’s Historic Performance: ‘Whenever We Needed a Bucket, She Answered’
Sunday’s Game 1 matchup between Connecticut and Chicago was a solid opening to what should be a thrilling between the two WNBA titans.
During the regular-season, Chicago swept their regular-season series with the Sun 4-0. A continuation of their 3-1 series over Connecticut on the way to the Sky winning the 2021 WNBA title. So the Sun leaving Wintrust Arena with a 68-63 win over the Sun was even more rewarding. The Connecticut Sun hopes that it can be a precursor of things to come.
“This is just about whoever wants it more,” Azurá Stevens said per the Chicago Tribune. “Because they have beef with us from last year. … That’s the type of series this is going to be: Who wants it more, who’s not going to let the ball go.”
Candace Parker finished Game 1 with 19 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, four steals, and six blocks. With that statline, Ace became the first player in WNBA history to post at least 15/15/5 and five blocks. She fell short of the second ever 5×5 game in League history, a feat she achieved as a rookie in 2008.
Looking at the positives, CP3 had an All-Time GREAT performance.— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) August 29, 2022
Now we move to Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/D8J0ou8xz4
Stevens lauded Parker for the historical performance and gave CP3 props as the walking bucket and security blanket that the defending champs can lean on.
“She was able to keep us alive, especially in the second half,” Stevens said. “It was almost like whenever we needed a bucket, she answered.”
Chicago opened the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 57-56 lead with 5:13 seconds left on the clock. From then on, the Sky and Sun traded leads, with the critical moment coming after the Sun forced Sky into a shot-clock violation in the final minute of Game 1. The Sun took a 66-63 lead with 17.1 seconds remaining after a clutch bucket from DeWanna Bonner (15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists).
Parker had a chance to play hero one more with 7.4 seconds left, but she missed, and the Sky is down 1-0 for the second time in these playoffs.
The Sky didn’t lose on that moment alone, though. The Sun forced Chicago to shoot 35.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. Kahleah Copper and Emma Meesseman were the only Sky players to score in the double-digits. Courtney Vandersloot (five points and two assists) didn’t score until the third frame, while Stevens, Allie Quigley, and Rebekah Gardner combined for 13 points.
The Sky will host Game 2 of the semifinals Wednesday night at Wintrust Arena before traveling to Connecticut for Games 3 and 4.