Griner dominates as Phoenix roll past Sun

Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones (35) pulled down a nine rebounds in Friday night’s loss at Phoenix and is six rebounds short of the single-season league record for rebounds.

PHOENIX, Sept. 1 – Phoenix’s Brittney Griner was dominant Friday night, scoring 20 of her game-high 31 points in the first half, as the Mercury rolled to an 86-66 WNBA victory at Talking Stick Arena.

Alyssa Thomas led the way for the Sun (21-12) with 19 points on the night while rookie Brionna Jones had a career-high 13 points off the bench. Shekinna Stricklen added nine points for Connecticut while Jonquel Jones had nine rebounds and five points.

Jones, who now needs six rebounds in the final game of the regular season to break the WNBA single-season rebounding record, spent much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble. Jones has pulled down 393 rebounds in 33 games. New York’s Tina Charles set the WNBA’s single-season record of 398 rebounds in 2010 when she was a rookie with Connecticut.

Brittany Griner led the Mercury (17-16) with 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists. She was joined in double-figures by Diana Taurasi with 15 and Yvonne Turner with 13. Phoenix led the entire game. A 17-4 run in the second quarter put the Mercury in firm control. The Sun never got closer than 12 points in the second half.

With their ninth straight win on Friday night, New York (21-12) moved into third place in the WNBA playoff seedings. The Sun and the Liberty split their four-game season series, 2-2 but the Liberty hold the tiebreaker edge.

Connecticut will still hold a single-elimination playoff game on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m., with the winner advancing the best-of-5 WNBA semifinals.

The first round of the WNBA playoffs is also a single-elimination affair with the Phoenix (No. 5 seed) hosting the No. 8 seed (Seattle or Dallas) and Washington (No. 6 seed) hosting No. 7 seed (Seattle or Dallas).

The Sun will close out the regular season on Sunday in Los Angeles, taking on the Sparks at 4 p.m. ET. The game can be watched live on WCCT, Channel 20. New York, who beat San Antonio on Friday, 81-69, visits Dallas on Sunday to close out the regular season.

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