PHOENIX, August 14 – The 20-point lead had dwindled to three points and the host Phoenix Mercury looked like they were on a run to regain the lead for the first time.
Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas simply put her head down and drove to the basket.
Thomas drove to the basket for a pair of key layups late in the fourth quarter to help the Connecticut Sun a two-game losing streak with a 78-71 victory over Phoenix Wednesday night at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Thomas had a game-high 18 points to lift the Sun (17-8), who closed out a four-game road trip with a victory.
Phoenix (11-13) had cut a 20-point lead Sun lead to three points thanks to a 15-1 run. Dewanna Bonner’s driving layup to the basket with 5:17 left in the game cut the Connecticut lead to three points, 69-66.
But on Connecticut’s next possession, it was Thomas with a driving layup to the basket to stop the run with 4:59 left. It was the Sun’s first field goal in the fourth quarter and the first in 6:20.
Jonquel Jones made a nice move in the lane off a pass from Bria Holmes with 4:17 remaining to extend the lead to seven, 73-66 and then it was Thomas again with a drive to the basket with 3:18 left to give the Sun a 75-66 advantage. Jones had a key rebound in the sequence to allow the Sun to keep possession of the ball and give Thomas the opportunity to extend the lead.
The Sun allowed Phoenix to score one field goal in the final 5:17 of the game. Th e Mercury missed four of their final five shots from the floor.
Connecticut had balanced scoring. Thomas had 18 but Jones had 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds while Courtney Williams added 12 points. Bria Holmes had 11 points off the bench in the first half while Alyssa Thomas also chipped in with 11 points.
“We just stayed tough,” Connecticut’s Courtney Williams said an interview with the WNBA. “We strung together some stops and make some baskets. Jasmine Thomas came up big for us. She knocked down some tough shots.”
Before Thomas’ basket with 4:59 remaining in the game, the Sun had missed 17 of their last 20 shots from the floor. Connecticut outscored Phoenix, 9-3 in the last five minutes of the game.
Bonner led Phoenix with 17 points while Yvonne Turner added 15 points. Brianna Turner and Leilani Mitchell each scored 12 points. The Mercury have lost three straight and five of their last six games.
The Mercury did play without the WNBA’s leading scorer Brittney Griner, who was serving the first game of three-game suspension resulting from a fight in last Saturday’s game with Dallas.
Griner and Dallas forward Kristine Anigwe, who was traded earlier this month from Connecticut to the Wings, got involved in an incident in the game fighting for a rebound. Anigwe and Dallas’ Kayla Thornton were suspended two games each. Phoenix’ Diana Taurasi, who has made just one appearance this year on July 12 against Connecticut, wasn’t active as she continues to recover from injuries.
The Sun, who were routed by Minnesota by 32 points on this road trip and dropped a hard-fought game to Las Vegas, return home to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday when they host Seattle beginning at 7 p.m.
Connecticut is currently No. 2 in the league behind Washington (18-7), who currently has the top record in the WNBA. Las Vegas (17-9) is currently the No. 3 seed. The top eight teams in the league make the playoffs.