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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Chicago Sky Beat Phoenix Mercury for First WNBA Championship

Chicago Sky Beat Phoenix Mercury for First WNBA Championship

Point guard Courtney Vanderslut, who led the league in assists for the fifth year in a row, averaged 9.7 assists per game in Game 4 entering this year’s playoffs. He logged a triple double in a double-overtime win over Connecticut—the league’s best defending regular season—in the first game of the semifinals, joining Hall of Famer Sherrill Swoops as the only player in WNBA history with a triple-double in the playoffs.

Other Sky players have also come in in a big way.

Vandersloot’s wife, Sky guard Eli Quigley, averaged 14 points per game in the playoffs before Sunday, finishing second on the team. The top scorer has been guard-forward Kahleh Copper, who averaged 18.6 points per game.

Sunday’s title culminated in a remarkable rise for Copper, the overall draft pick number 7 by the Washington Mystics in 2016. Copper was traded to Chicago ahead of the 2017 season in a deal that sent former Sky superstar Elena Dele Donne. Mystic. Copper started in just 12 games from 2017 to 2019, falling behind Vanderslut, Quigley and DeShields.

She had a breakout season in 2020 as she moved into a starting role, more than doubling her minutes per game – from 31.3 in 2020 to 14.8 in 2019 – and points per game – from 6.7 to 14.9. Copper has since established himself as a star on Sky and was the difference in this championship series.

“You have players that work, but you have players like Kah who really work, and you look at it the right way,” said Chicago coach James Wade as Copper played in Game 3 in Game- Scored high 22 marks.

It is a disappointing end to the season for Mercury, who last won a championship in 2014, when they led Sky for their third franchise title.

Phoenix had a strong season behind WNBA career scoring leader Diana Taurasi, one of the league’s best centers, Brittany Griner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith, a fearless scorer and playmaker throughout her career.

But although they had kept the Phoenix alive in so many crucial games, on Sunday they couldn’t do enough to extend their season for one more game.

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