The Chicago Sky are one step closer to defending their title after beating the New York Liberty, 90-72, to advance to the semifinals.
Kahleah Copper, Allie Quigley, and Courtney Vandersloot combined to score 44 points but the star of the show was Candace Parker, who led the Sky to their series win with a near triple-double effort, posting 14 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks, including a layup that Betnijah Laney may have deflected. Emma Meesseman followed up with 12 points.
“I’m old, Holly,” Parker deadpanned when asked about coming up short on the fourth playoff triple-double in W history by Holly Rowe. “I’m old in basketball years. No, but our team did a good job of grinding it out and giving everything that they had, and I know I tried to do the best that I could. My shot isn’t falling right now, it will, but I know I can do other things for this team, and I think rebounding is my role but also getting great shots for our team.”
Chicago also knocked down eight three-pointers and hit 10-13 free throws in the game.
Game 3 just seemed to go Chicago’s way in every way possible as the veteran unit relied on their championship experience to close out their first-round series. Anytime New York tried to spark a run, Chicago was right there with an answer. Chicago’s most decisive answer came in the fourth quarter after New York came out the gates with a 7-0 run, including a five-point possession from Ionescu, to cut the Sky’s 10-point to 68-65.
However, the sold-out Barclays Center crown happiness at the Liberty’s fight was short-lived. The Sky put the clamps on the Liberty as they only allowed New York to score seven points over the final nine minutes of the game. Chicago also forced Ionescu to miss her final five shots after her quick offensive burst.
The final nail on the coffin came courtesy of a series-clinching 16-0 run, including back-to-back triples from Quigley, to answer New York’s run and essentially put the game away as their lead grew to as large as 20 points.
“We stayed with it,” Parker said during her televised interview with Rowe. “I think we learned from Game 1. Letting our foot off the gas, we were up seven with three minutes left, and we kinda relaxed a little bit.”
“This is a great New York team, they gotta young core, they shoot the three well, so we really have to be disciplined, so when we lose our focus for a second, that’s why they jump back in the game.”
With their Game 3 win, Chicago has now won four consecutive elimination games, including back-to-back single-elimination games last year en route to the franchise’s first WNBA championship. The opening round matchup has been a good test for the Sky, especially after the Liberty shocked them in Game 1 with a 13-0 run to steal Game 1. The Sky returned to normal with a dominant 62-100 win.
The reigning champs will play the winner of the Dallas Wings and Connecticut Sun series.