Sun drop regular season finale but Jones sets new single season rebound mark

Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones (35) pulled down 10 rebounds in Sunday’s game against Los Angeles to set a new WNBA single season record for most rebounds. The Sparks beat the Sun, 81-70.

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 3 – The Connecticut Sun dropped three of their final four games of the regular season. But they are in the WNBA playoffs for the first time since 2012.

The defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks beat the Sun, 81-70, on Sunday to close out the regular season. Jonquel Jones pulled down scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as she set a new single season record for most rebounds with 403.

Jones broke the record of 398 set by New York’s Tina Charles when she was a rookie in 2010 with the Sun. Jones led the league in rebounding with an average of 11.9 caroms a contest.

Connecticut (21-13) will host a second round game on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena against an undetermined opponent. The winner advances to the best-of-five WNBA semifinals – most likely against the Sparks (26-8).

Los Angeles had little trouble with the Sun, never trailing. They led 20-13 after one quarter and 38-27 at halftime. They shot 51 percent from the floor and dominated in the paint, outscoring Connecticut, 56-20. Nneka Ogqumike led Los Angeles with 21 points while Candice Parker scored 12 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Courtney Williams led the Sun with 19 points. Alyssa Thomas and Morgan Tuck each added nine points in the loss for Connecticut. It was Tuck’s best scoring output of the season since returning from a knee contusion on July 12.

The highlight for the Sun was the record-setting performance by Jones, who grabbed her record rebound with 8:50 left in the third quarter, pulling down a missed shot by Ogumike.

“I just wanted to come into this game and get into my groove as early as possible when it came to rebounding,” Jones said. “Just being able to say that I’m able to do something like this is really special. Tina Charles did something special and to be in the same category as her it makes me feel really, really good and I’m happy to do it with my teammates.”

A native of the Bahamas who is in her second season after a stellar career at George Washington, Jones began the night needing six rebounds to break the record.

“Pretty incredible for as second-year player to break an all-time record like that,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said of the achievement. “She’s one of the elite rebounders I’ve ever been around. She just had an unbelievable year at the defensive end, and she’s just scratching the surface. Obviously she is going to just keep getting better and better at all aspects of her game, so for her to break a WNBA record in just her second year is truly remarkable and I am really happy for JJ.”

The Sun lost to Chicago on August 25 before beating Washington on Tuesday night on the road, 86-71, to clinch a first round bye. Connecticut fell to Phoenix on Friday, 86-66, before losing to the Sparks for the third time in four games this season. The Sun beat Los Angeles at the Mohegan Sun Arena in game two on May 3, 79-62.

2017 WNBA playoffs
First round (Single-game elimination)
Wednesday, Sept. 6: (7) Dallas at (6) Washington, 8 PM ET (ESPN2)
Wednesday, Sept. 6: (8) Seattle at (5) Phoenix, 10 PM ET (ESPN2)

Second round (Single game elimination)
Sunday, Sept. 10: TBD at (4) Connecticut, 3 PM ET (ESPN2)

Sunday, Sept. 10, TBD at (3) New York, 5 PM ET (ESPN2)

Semifinals – Hosted by Seeds 1 and 2 (2-2-1)
Minnesota vs. TBD
Game 1: Tuesday, Sept. 12 — TBD at (1) Minnesota, 8 PM ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Thursday, Sept. 14 — TBD at Minnesota, 8 PM ET (ESPN2)
Game 3: Sunday, Sept. 17
Game 4*: Tuesday, Sept. 19
Game 5*: Thursday, Sept. 21

Los Angeles vs. TBD
Game 1: Tuesday, Sept. 12 — TBD at (2) Los Angeles, 10 PM ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: Thursday, Sept. 14 — TBD at Los Angeles, 10 PM ET (ESPN2)
Game 3: Sunday, Sept. 17
Game 4*: Tuesday, Sept. 19
Game 5*: Thursday, Sept. 21

Finals – Hosted by top Seed (2-2-1)
Game 1: Sunday, Sept. 24
Game 2: Tuesday, Sept. 26
Game 3: Friday, Sept. 29
Game 4*: Sunday, Oct. 1
Game 5*: Wednesday, Oct. 4
*game if necessary

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