UNCASVILLE, Sept. 7, 2022 – It’s been no secret that Connecticut guard Courtney Williams has struggled in the playoffs this year for the Sun. But she never stops moving. She grabs rebounds, gets steals and does whatever she can to help her team.
Williams and the Sun played with a tempo and intensity that the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky failed to match Tuesday night as the Sun ran away with a 104-80 win over the Sky to tie the best-of-5 semifinal series at 2-2.
The win by the Sun sends the series back to Chicago on Thursday for a decisive game 5 with the winner advancing to the WNBA championship series as the Las Vegas Aces, who eliminated Seattle with a win in the other semifinal series.
The Sun scored a playoff franchise record 104 points and led by as many as 27 points. Williams and DeWanna Bonner each had a game-high 19 points with Alyssa Thomas sparkling with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Brionna Jones had 11 points with DiJonai Carrington scoring 12 and Odyssey Sims adding 10 off the bench.
“What a big response by our team,” Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “They really set the tone early with their aggressiveness at both ends of the floor. All the credit to the players and how determined they were.
“We felt deflated after game three that we did so well defensively and couldn’t get to the finish line,” he said. “There was just incredible heart and determination by our players to do what they are capable of doing. It’s all them. They were incredible for us throughout the game.”
Miller said the team that dominated the paint would be successful. Connecticut had a WNBA postseason record of 66 points in the paint and shot a post-season franchise high of 56.9 percent from the floor.
Williams was a catalyst. She was 5-for-5 from the floor with 10 points in the third quarter with four shots on nifty passes she caught on the baseline for underhand layups.
“Courtney set the tone with her movement away from the ball,” Miller said. “That movement really helped. She was incredibly active without the ball and that is the Courtney Williams that WNBA fans have grown to appreciate.”
The Sun kept the pressure on throughout the contest. They finished the third quarter with a flourish as Bonner drained a three-point shot with 2.1 seconds remaining before Sims stole the ball from Allie Quigley in the backcourt, took a step and beat the buzzer with a jumper to extend the lead to 22 points.
Chicago had a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 18 points but Bonner drained a three-point shot from the corner off a Thomas assist and Williams hit a nothing-but-net pull up jumper to secure the lead and the victory.
“There were too many details we missed,” Quigley said. “Not doing what we were supposed to do. We missed people behind us. There were too many moments where we weren’t there and ready. We weren’t focused.”
Kahleah Copper led the Sky with 16 points with Emma Meesseman adding 14 points. Candace Parker had 11 points but didn’t hit her first field goal until there was 41.5 seconds left in the second quarter.
“We weren’t good enough in certain moments,” Sky head coach James Wade said. “At the end of the day, we have to find ways to have that high energy and not rely on having our backs against the wall.”
The Sun got off to the start they wanted with a 12-2 run to open the game. Right off the opening tip, Williams drove to the basket and scored. Thomas was running and scoring inside, sinking four of her first five shots from the floor. Thomas had 11 of her 17 points in the first quarter along with six rebounds and two assists.
Parker haunted the Sun in the first three games of the series. But twice, Connecticut got steals off Parker to drive the opposite way for baskets. Bonner swiped the ball from Parker midway through the first quarter and drove to the basket for a 20-6 lead.
Carrington intercepted a Parker pass at the end of the first half and drove to the basket, putting up a layup as time expired to give the Sun a 58-41 lead at the half.
The Sun 59.5 percent from the field in the first half. Thomas had 13 points at the break with Bonner chipping with 11.
Game five is Thursday night at 8 p.m. in Chicago and it will be broadcast on ESPN2.
(2) Chicago vs. (3) Connecticut
Sunday, Aug. 28
Connecticut 68, Chicago 63
Wednesday, Aug. 31
Chicago 85, Connecticut 77
Sunday, September 4
Chicago 76, Connecticut 72
Tuesday, Sept, 6
Connecticut 104, Chicago 80, series tied 2-2
Thursday, Sept. 8
Connecticut at Chicago, 8 p.m., ESPN 2