By CBS 2’s Marshall Harris and Associated Press writer Casey Drottar
CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — The Chicago Sky won their first ever WNBA Championship Sunday, taking three games out of four against the Phoenix Mercury.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Monday Brings Wind, Blast Of Cold Air
Down 11 in the fourth, the Sky looked like they were going to have to go back to Phoenix needing to win a decisive Game 5 on the road. But they found a way to get it done, and now they’re celebrating the first title in the 16-year history of the franchise.
The final score Sunday was 80-74. The sell-out crowd was not disappointed in what they saw transpire, as they broke into Queens’ “We Are the Champions” after the victory.
Ticker tape and confetti flew after the final horn.
Allie Quigley scored 26 points and Candace Parker added 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Courtney Vandersloot added 10 points and 15 assists for the Sky, who won the series 3-1, rallying from a 72-65 deficit with 4:42 left.
This one is for you, Chicago. 🏆
The Chicago Sky are your 2021 WNBA Champions. pic.twitter.com/Pv4KiTzLIA
— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) October 17, 2021
“Man, there’s nothing like it,” Parker told CBS 2’s Marshall Harris, “Winning a championship at home – I told Allie (Quigley), I was like, man, that’s not too bad for two suburban girls, right?”
Marshall asked Parker if this championship meant more to her, given that the Naperville native is back home after having previously won with the Los Angeles Sparks and winning WNBA Most Valuable Player awards twice.
“I think the game was like a microcosm of what the season has been. The season has been hard – I mean, we’ve gone through ups and downs, injuries – all that,” Parker said. “But we still believed. We stayed calm. We stayed the course. It’s unbelievable, man.”
— Krista Ruch (@KristaCBS2) October 17, 2021
“It’s a moment that I’ll never forget. Right now, it’s still surreal. I can’t even believe – like I haven’t remembered anything from the horn buzzer to me talking to you guys right now, so this is just amazing,” Sky Head Coach James Wade told reporters. Wade is leading the team in his third year as coach.
The Sky scored the next nine points to take a two-point lead on Stefanie Dolson’s layup. She then added another basket to make it 76-72 with 45.8 seconds left.
The Mercury’s Diana Taurasi was fouled on the next possession shooting a 3-pointer and made the first two free throws, but missed the third.
Vandersloot then scored in the lane to seal the victory setting off the celebration.
“We were down nine, down 11 and we stayed with it,” Parker said. “So proud of this group. Sloot doing what she does all year. Allie its amazing.”
As the final buzzer sounded, Parker sprinted to the corner of the court and hugged her family with tears in her eyes.
“Their defense went to another level trapping BG,” Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said. “We got some good looks, layups. we missed them and they made them. Allie really changed the momentum of the game there.”READ MORE: Multiple Juveniles Arrested During Large Gathering, Fights Near Millennium Park
It was a full-circle moment for Parker, who triumphantly returned home to Chicago this season after spending 13 years with Los Angeles. She has been continually called the Sky’s missing piece throughout the playoffs, a label she proved accurate many times during Chicago’s stunning run, winning the title as a six-seed.
“It feels amazing. My high school coach is here,” Parker said. “I know Pat’s (Summitt) watching. Got the whole city here. We got the whole city here. We are champions for life now.”
Brittney Griner was a focal point of Phoenix’s offense early on. The seven-time All-Star finished the game with 28 points, 18 of which came in the first half. Griner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith helped lead a 9-0 run to finish the second quarter and give Phoenix a 44-37 edge at halftime.
Parker initially had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively, going one for six from the floor with just four points by the end of the first half.
Kahleah Copper, who had been a force in the first four games of the finals, earned MVP honors of the championship.
“You know, there was no doubt in my mind that we could win a championship ever. That thought never wavered,” Copper said. “We handled adversity so well – you know, we won seven, we lost seven, but we stayed the course. We trusted our process. And when that playoff hit, we knew we had a new season.”
“It’s surreal – extremely surreal,” added Quigley. “I’m just going to keep enjoying this moment and just pinch myself every five minutes.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a tweet congratulating the team. She wrote that the championship was “a first, but not the last.”
What a moment.
Congrats champs! 🎉
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) October 17, 2021
The mayor tweeted that details about a rally for the Sky are coming soon, and we should “stay tuned.”
Emotions were high for both teams right from the start, as Taurasi and Sky forward Kahleah Copper were each hit with technical fouls within a 50-second span in the first quarter.
The Sky drew a sell-out crowd despite the Chicago Bears hosting the rival Green Bay Packers just down the street at Soldier Field. The Bears lost to the Packers 24-14.
Chance the Rapper was once again in attendance at Wintrust Arena to support his hometown team.
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So much fun covering the Sky today and following the WNBA all season. The league’s popularity continues to grow because it’s a quality product with stars. The energy at the end of that game was something else. Great times. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/FqXsYdwXSF
— Marshall Harris (@mharrisonair) October 18, 2021
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)