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Jonquel Jones takes center stage as Connecticut pulls away from Indiana

Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones had a team-high 25 points, including four shots from three-point range, in Tuesday’s 88-77 WNBA win over Indiana.

UNCASVILLE, Conn., May 28 – On Saturday night, it was the Alyssa Thomas show. The veteran from Maryland was a dominant inside force with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds in a 15-point win over WNBA finalist Washington.

On Tuesday night, it was Jonquel Jones’ turn to shine. The 6-foot-6 forward from George Washington had a team-high 25 points, including four shots from three-point range, to lead the Connecticut Sun to an 88-77 WNBA victory over the Indiana Fever before 4,781 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Guards Jasmine Thomas scored 15 points with seven assists while Courtney Williams added 13 points with four assists. Alyssa Thomas scored just two points but she had two steals, a blocked shot and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Sun improved to 2-0 on the young season.

“It was an important 2-0 homestand to start the season and it was important to get two early wins with us being the first Eastern Conference team to go on a West Coast trip,” Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said.

The Sun will leave Wednesday morning for a game on Friday against the Los Angeles Sparks and will play at Las Vegas on Sunday.

“We did enough in stretches defensively and offensively tonight,” Miller said. “You are seeing the balance of our team. (Alyssa Thomas), who arguably looked like the best player in the league this past weekend, struggled to finish tonight, but she still went and got us 10 boards. Tonight was JJ’s (Jonquel Jones) night to get points and our bench was important in stretches. Bria Holmes gave us a spark off the bench.”

Holmes scored seven points off the bench in just 11:53 of action. Layshia Clarendon scored eight points off the bench, too.

Indiana’s Tiffany Mitchell bends backwards to rip down a rebound in Tuesday night’s loss to Connecticut, 88-77 in WNBA play.

“The two first wins were not pretty,” Jasmine Thomas said. “We know we can play a lot better. We are excited that even though we got those two wins, there is another level we can go to. The West Coast is always tough. We are playing an experienced and different L.A. team and Vegas has put together a squad. We are ready to accept the challenge and get some road wins.”

Guard Erica Wheeler had 26 points for the visiting Fever (1-1), who have lost six straight games to Connecticut. She made 11 of 15 shots from the floor and was 4-of-6 from three-point range. Candice Dupree added 20 points while Natalie Achonwa scored 10.

Indiana cut the lead to six points midway through the third quarter before Connecticut went on an 11-2 run to seize control of the contest with consecutive three-point shots from Rachel Banham, Jasmine Thomas and Jones to extend the lead to 15 points.

Indiana could get no closer than six points in the fourth quarter. The Fever cut the lead to six on Wheeler’s driving layup with 5:36 remaining only to see Jones sink a nine-foot turnaround jumper. After a turnover, Courtney Williams sank a 17-foot pullup shot to extend the lead to 10 points with 4:51 to go.

“They are a veteran team and you can’t take that away from them,” Wheeler said. “We got some open looks but we just didn’t hit them and us missing those shots and they came down and hit a three and then another long three. We just didn’t stop the bleeding.”

Indiana’s Tiffany Mitchell, left, tries to get past Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas in Tuesday’s WNBA game. The Sun won, 88-77.

Jones got going early for the Sun. In the first quarter, she had nine points. She added another five points in the second quarter. She had three 3-point field goals in the third quarter. On the defensive end of the floor, she blocked two shots as well.

NOTES: Indiana’s Betnijah Laney, who played 29 games with the Sun a year ago, matched her career high with three steals. Laney signed with Indiana as a free agent in the offseason. … Wheeler had a game-high nine assists, one shy of her career high. Her 26 points was the second highest total in her career.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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