PHOENIX (AP) – Kahleah Copper scored 22 points, Allie Quigley added 18 and the hot shooting Chicago Sky opened the WNBA final with a 91-77 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
The Sky held up to Phoenix’s quick start and took control with a 21-2 run at halftime to win 17. Courtney Vandersloot had 12 points and 11 assists and helped Chicago shoot 53% and wrest the home advantage from the Mercury in the best-of – five series.
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Game 2 is Wednesday in Phoenix.
The Mercury played without guards Kia Nurse (ruptured cruciate ligament) and Sophie Cunningham (left calf strain), and the lack of depth seemed to hurt them against one of the WNBA’s top offensive teams.
Brittney Griner had 20 points and Diana Taurasi 17 for the Mercury, which moved in too late within eight points before running out of power and time.
The 2021 WNBA Finals will be the first for both franchises since the 2014 Mercury swept the sky.
It’s also a showdown between two of the sport’s all-time greats who are still at the forefront of their games.
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The 39-year-old Taurasi, three-time WNBA champion and all-time league goalscorer, took the route from Game 5 against Las Vegas, scoring 14 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter. She was voted the best player in the 25-year history of the WNBA by fans in a ceremony ahead of Game 1 of the finals.
Parker, a two-time league MVP, returned to Chicago this season after her first 13 seasons in Los Angeles and was one of the main reasons Sky made it to the final in the semifinals against Connecticut. The 35-year-old was honored as one of the WNBA’s greatest players in a ceremony after the first quarter of Game 1.
Taurasi Kick kicked off Phoenix’s hot start into the final with two early three-pointers and gave the Mercury an early nine-point lead.
Parker led the Sky back, scoring 11 points in the first half while hitting a 17-0 run in the late second quarter that put Chicago 46:35 ahead at halftime.
Chicago extended the lead to 17 in the third quarter before Phoenix went 52-45 with a 10-2 run.
That’s as close as Mercury would come.
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The Sky continued to lose their shots, increasing their lead to 86-66 mid-fourth quarter before facing a late run of Phoenix’s reserves.