CHICAGO — Kahleah Copper nearly outscored the Phoenix Mercury by herself in the first half Friday night, leading the Chicago Sky to an 86-50 win and 2-1 lead in the WNBA Finals.
The No. 6-seeded Sky are one win away from their first WNBA title. The No. 5 Mercury must win Game 4 here on Sunday and Game 5 in Phoenix on Tuesday to earn their fourth title.
"I was telling my team, I'm 0-2 in Game 4 closeouts at home," said Sky star Candace Parker. "I don't want that to continue. We know they are a fantastic team and they'll come out and be ready. Come back stronger."
Dana Evans hit a third straight 3-pointer with 28.6 seconds left, boosting the Sky to the largest margin of victory in WNBA Finals history. The previous high was 33 points in 2020 when Seattle won 92-59 over Las Vegas.
The lightning-quick Copper drove for scores on everyone, including 6-9 Brittney Griner, for 20 points at halftime as the Sky built a 46-24 lead at sold-out Wintrust Arena.
"Her energy is unmatched, her positivity is unmatched," Parker said of Copper. "You root for her because she’s a good person. She gives us a lift when we need it on the biggest stage showing the world what we already knew in practice every day."
Chicago's 22-point halftime lead tied for the largest in WNBA Finals history with the Mercury's margin over the Sky in Game 1 of the 2014 Finals.
The Mercury shot just 23.5% in the first half, falling into double the deficit they faced at halftime in Game 1, a 91-77 Sky win.
The Sky led 20-11 and could have been ahead of more after the first quarter but for six turnovers. Copper had seven points in the first.
The Mercury trailed 25-16 in the second when the Sky went on a back-breaking 10-0 run that included a Copper 3-pointer and 3-point play.
Phoenix turned to Griner in the third quarter, and the All-WNBA First Team center came through 12 points, but her teammates added only two.
Chicago led 62-38 at the end of the third.
Mercury coach Sandy Brondello took her Big 3 — Griner, Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith — out in the first minute of the fourth quarter so they would have extra rest before Game 4. She was playing all subs by the 7:47 mark of the fourth.
"We got our butts kicked tonight," Brondello said. "It’s disappointing. They were really, really aggressive. We still got some open looks and missed them. We lost momentum and they grew a lot of confidence. It rattled us a little bit. We’ve got to be better."
Copper led all scorers for the second time in the Finals with 22 points. Candace Parker added 13 and Diamond DeShields had 11 for the Sky.
Griner had 16 points in her three quarters of playing time. No other Mercury player reached double figures.
Follow Jeff Metcalfe on Twitter . Contributing: Associated Press.