CHICAGO – Fans of each professional franchise in the city have had their own crushing losses through the years that still can bother them long after the contest’s conclusion.
Those who root for the Chicago Sky now have one of those moments of their own as the team’s dreams of a repeat league championship crumbled in a terrible finish at Wintrust Arena on Thursday night.
Leading by nine points with 4:46 to go in Game 5 of their WNBA Semifinal, the hosts went cold from the field as the Sun heated up to completely flip the contest. What looked like a second-straight trip to the league finals for the Sky instead turned into a bitter 72-63 defeat to Connecticut, which eliminated them from the playoffs.
After Kahleah Copper’s hoop with 4:46 to go in the game, the Sky wouldn’t score again as they were outscored 18-0 to end the game. Per ESPN Stats and Info, it was the largest scoring run to close out a WNBA Playoff game in league history.
Connecticut outscored the Sky 24-5 in the four quarter, erasing what at one point had been a double-digit lead for the defending WNBA champs. But the late collapse denies the Sky a shot at a second-straight title as the league still hasn’t had a repeat champion in two decades.
“It’s probably one of the biggest disappointments that I’ve had professionally,” said Sky head coach James Wade after the contest. “This is probably going to hurt me for a long time. I felt like I could have done a better job of getting them a bucket and I just couldn’t get them one.”
It’s a very bitter end to what was a historic season for the Sky, who won a franchise-record 26 regular season games in their first campaign as the reigning league champions. They were down eight points at the end of the first quarter but fought back to tie it at the half then took a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
But the final ten minutes doomed the team, who finished the playoffs with a 4-4 record, four wins short of the goal that they had for 2022.
“We didn’t make the plays we’ve been making all season in the fourth quarter,” said guard Courtney Vandersloot.
“We stopped playing beautiful basketball,” said forward Candace Parker.
Both are reasons the team suffered a loss as painful as any in their team’s history as a dream of a repeat died over the course of 4:46.