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Connecticut secures No. 2 seed in WNBA playoffs with rout over Dallas

Jonquel Jones had a team-high 22 points as Connecticut rolled past Dallas Wednesday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

After losing in the single-elimination round for two consecutive years to the Phoenix Mercury, the Connecticut Sun were looking for a little room to breathe in the WNBA playoffs. Securing a top two seed gives a team an automatic bye into the best-of-five semifinals.

Connecticut has not been shy about this goal, either. It’s been a frequent rallying point throughout the 2019 campaign.

The Sun secured a top two seed and their first berth into the WNBA semifinals since 2012 with a dominating 102-72 win over the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night in Uncasville. Connecticut (23-9) won their ninth straight game at home and improved to 15-1 on the Mohegan Sun Arena floor.

Six Connecticut players scored in double figure, led by Jonquel Jones with 22 points – the 27th time in 32 games that Jones has scored in double figures and her fifth game with more than 20 points.

“We’re happy to be in the situation where we feel like we can really put our best foot forward and show the type of level we play at,” Jones said.

Morgan Tuck came off the bench to score a season-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and hitting on four of her five three-point shots. Brionna Jones added a season-high 11 points while Alyssa Thomas had 13 points.

Courtney Williams scored just nine points but she made her presence felt with eight rebounds and a seven assists. Backup guard Natisha Hiedeman had a game-high nine assists for the Sun.

“We were very vocal going into the season on the coveted one and two spots (in the WNBA playoffs),” Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “Once the season got started, we didn’t talk much about it until that goal was tangible and reachable here at the end of the season. But we know what that does for us and we wanted to take the next step. I give them credit. They’ve grinded the entire year to give them that opportunity.”

Connecticut can still earn the No. 1 seed if they finish tied with Washington (24-8) because the Sun took two of three games against the Mystics. Both teams have two games remaining. But if not, the Sun will be the No. 2 seed.

Game one and two of the WNBA semifinal series with the Sun will be September 17 and 19 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Despite outstanding play from rookie of the year candidate Arike Ogunbowale from Notre Dame, who had a game-high 32 points (10-21 field goals, 4-7 three-point range), the Dallas Wings were overwhelmed from the start. The Wings (10-22) trailed by eight after one quarter, 24-16 and the Sun extended the lead to 13 points at halftime, 49-36.

“Tonight, we shot the ball fantastically, we were really efficient offensively,” Miller said. “We did a really good job screening and that contributed to a lot of actions that worked for us tonight. We were solid in stretches defensively when we needed to be. We need to be better overall. But, again, after a stretch with that unit in the fourth quarter they finished that game out strong and had a lot of fun. And we’re going to need that unit down the stretch.”

Hiedeman, Brionna Jones and Bria Holmes were a few of the Sun bench players that shined in the fourth quarter.

Dallas’ Allisha Gray said, “I feel like [Connecticut] just our competed us, they wanted it more. That’s all really.” At one point, the Sun led by 35 points.

The Sun play their final regular season home game of the season on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Chicago Sky at the Mohegan Sun Arena before finishing the regular season on Sunday at Indiana.

Washington plays Dallas on Friday and closes out the regular season against Chicago on Sunday.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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