Chasing a Championship: Fourth Quarter Comeback Lifts Chicago to First WNBA Championship

After a 32-game regular season that began in mid-May, and an exhilarating postseason, the 2021 WNBA season closed out its 25th season on Sunday afternoon with a new champion crowned. 

With things looking like they would result in a winner-take-all Game 5 set to take place, the Chicago Sky put together an impressive fourth quarter comeback to take down the Phoenix Mercury and, on their home floor, become league champions. 

After an up-and-down, back-and-forth championship series between Chicago and Phoenix, let’s look back at what took place in Game 4 at Wintrust Arena. 

 

#6 Chicago Sky – 3, #5 Phoenix Mercury – 1

Game One: Sky 91, Mercury 77

Game Two: Mercury 91, Sky 86 (OT)

Game Three: Sky 86, Mercury 50 

Game Four: Sky 80, Mercury 74

 

Chicago entered Game 4 on Sunday riding high off of an awfully impressive blowout win in Game 3, setting the stage for a chance to seal the series at home and avoid a Game 5. 

For three quarters, Phoenix looked like it was going to force a winner-take-all Game 5, answering every time Chicago tried to take a lead. In the fourth quarter, however, the Sky finally broke the Mercury and became red-hot at the best possible time, pulling out an 80-74 win to take the series 3-1.

Unlike in Game 3, Phoenix showed up right out of the gate, making for an entertaining, back-and-forth first half in Chicago. You could feel the Mercury’s excessive sense of urgency to force a Game 5. Capped with a nice stretch to conclude the second quarter, Phoenix carried a 44-37 advantage over Chicago at halftime to set the stage for an intriguing second half. 

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In the second half, the Mercury carried that success through the third quarter while looking to force one final game on Tuesday in Phoenix. That was until the Sky took the floor for the final 10 minutes, a stretch they absolutely dominated to come back and take the game and the trophy. In the final frame, Chicago outscored Phoenix 26-11, leading to an impressive six-point victory. 

Sparking the late comeback for Chicago was Allie Quigley, who finished with a team-best 26 points and five rebounds. Behind Quigley, Candace Parker paced her hometown team with 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and four steals; Courtney Vandersloot added a near triple-double of 10 points, 15 assists, and nine rebounds; and, though Kahleah Copper had somewhat of a quiet game with 10 points, she took home Finals MVP honors.

On the other side of the court, Phoenix’s big three of Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, and Skylar Diggins-Smith did all they could to lift the Mercury to victory and avoid elimination. Griner put together another impressive game featuring 28 points and seven rebounds, followed by Taurasi with 16 points, and Diggins-Smith with 16 points and eight assists. 

An incredibly entertaining WNBA season and received the Finals it deserved,  with the Sky coming away as league champions. Chicago—a fun story of a team with a young head coach in James Wade and a star player in Parker who returned to lead her hometown team to a championship for the first time ever—is your 2021 WNBA Champions.

 

WNBA Playoff Schedule 

First Round (single elimination):

  • #6 Chicago Sky 81, #7 Dallas Wings 64 RECAP
  • #5 Phoenix Mercury 83, #8 New York Liberty 82 RECAP

Second Round (single elimination):

  • #5 Phoenix Mercury 85, #4 Seattle Storm 80 (OT) RECAP
  • #6 Chicago Sky 89, #3 Minnesota Lynx 76 RECAP

Semifinals: 

  • Game One (Tuesday, Sept. 28): 
    • #6 Chicago Sky 101, #1 Connecticut Sun 95 (2OT) RECAP
    • #2 Las Vegas Aces 96, #5 Phoenix Mercury 90 RECAP
  • Game Two (Thursday, Sept. 30):
    • #1 Connecticut Sun 79, #6 Chicago Sky 68 RECAP
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury 117, #2 Las Vegas Aces 91 RECAP
  • Game Three (Sunday, Oct. 3): 
    • #6 Chicago Sky 86, #1 Connecticut Sun 83 RECAP
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury 87, #2 Las Vegas Aces 60 RECAP
  • Game Four (Wednesday, Oct. 6):
    • #6 Chicago Sky 79, #1 Connecticut Sun 69 RECAP
    • #2 Las Vegas Aces 93, #5 Phoenix Mercury 76 RECAP
  • Game Five (Friday, Oct. 8):
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury 87, #2 Las Vegas Aces 84 RECAP

WNBA Finals: 

  • Game One (Sunday, Oct. 10):
    • #6 Chicago Sky 91, #5 Phoenix Mercury 77 RECAP
  • Game Two (Wednesday, Oct. 13):
    • #5 Phoenix Mercury 91, #6 Chicago Sky 86 (OT) RECAP
  • Game Three (Friday, Oct. 15):
    •  #6 Chicago Sky 86, #5 Phoenix Mercury 50 RECAP
  • Game Four (Sunday, Oct. 17):
    •  #6 Chicago Sky 80, #5 Phoenix Mercury 74 RECAP
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