Defense was the difference for the Chicago Sky with their season on the line and facing elimination in Game 3 of its WNBA playoff semifinal Sunday against Los Angeles Sparks.
The reward? Chicago earned a 70-66 win and another shot at Los Angeles in Game 4, set for Tuesday night at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Los Angeles still holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, meaning everything the Sky accomplished on Sunday will be for naught if it can't replicate the effort at least one more time.
Game 5, if necessary, will be played Thursday in Los Angeles.
The Sky held Los Angeles forward Candace Parker, who came into the game averaging 25 points in the first two contests in the series, to just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting from the floor. The Sparks shot just 36.6 percent as a team and just 18.2 percent from three-point range.
Los Angeles took a whopping 33 three-point shots in Game 3 after attempting 41 in the first two games of the series combined. Conversely, Chicago was just 1 of 3 from long-range and took 69 two-point shots.
Parker did corral 15 rebounds, 11 of them on the defensive end, and league MVP Nneka Ogwumike scored a game-high 22 points for Los Angeles.
Chicago got 17 points from Courtney Vandersloot and 13 points and 11 rebounds from rookie center Imani Boyette in Game 3. Vandersloot and Boyette scored Chicago's final 10 points of the game.
The Sky is still playing without star forward Elena Delle Donne, who on Sunday missed her ninth straight game after undergoing right thumb surgery on Sept. 13.
Los Angeles led by 15 points in the first half and by nine at halftime. Chicago outscored the Sparks 19-8 in the third quarter and clinched the game on a pair of free throws in the final seconds by Vandersloot.
The Sparks won Games 1 (95-75) and 2 (99-84) and have captured five of the six meetings between the two teams this season, including twice on Chicago's home floor with Delle Donne in the lineup. Los Angeles has scored at least 93 points in four of those victories.
The winner of this series will play defending champ Minnesota, who swept Phoenix in the other semifinal, in the WNBA finals beginning Oct. 9 in Minneapolis.