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Bonner helps Sun take care of Dallas and advance to semifinals

Connecticut’s Dewanna Bonner had a game-high 21 points and five assists to lead the Sun past the Dallas Wings, 73-58, and into the WNBA semifinals.

Dewanna Bonner won two WNBA championships in Phoenix and is the only player on the Connecticut Sun roster with a championship ring.

With the season on the line, Bonner energized the Sun defense and led Connecticut to a 73-58 win over the Dallas Wings Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, allowing the Sun to win the first round series, 2-1 and advance to the WNBA semifinals for the fourth straight year.

Bonner had a game-high 21 points with five assists, five rebounds and a block while Alyssa Thomas scored 13 points and had eight rebounds. Jonquel Jones and Natisha Hiedeman each had 11 points for Connecticut, which rebounded from a tough loss in game two when the Sun trailed by as many as 31 points.

Bonner had four of her five assists in the pivotal third quarter as the Sun seized control of the game. Bonner had either a basket or an assist on five of seven straight possessions as the Sun turned a tie ballgame into an 11-point advantage.

“Our players with so much energy and effort. We didn’t play a perfect game,” Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said. “We left a lot of points out there on the floor. But we hang our hat on defense and it was remarkable how hard we played. Tonight, we showed up and really got on the glass.”

The Sun had 40 rebounds and 17 offensive rebounds. They scored 20 second-chance points. After getting just one steal in the game two loss to the Wings, the Sun had 14 steals – one shy of a team playoff record.

“Ultimately, a lot of times, basketball comes down to who plays the hardest,” Miller said. “And who plays with passion and desire. Tonight, we played with so much effort and energy. I am so proud of them.”

Connecticut earned a spot in the best-of-5 semifinal against defending WNBA champion Chicago beginning on Sunday at 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Against Dallas, the Sun won a decisive, winner-take-all playoff game for just the second time in franchise history and for the first time since 2004.

Bonner had a big part in that victory. She exceeded 20 points for just the fifth time this season and the first time scoring a season-high 23 against Chicago on July 31.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” the 6-foot-4 forward said. “If I had the lane, I was going to go the basket. Make or miss I was going to take that shot.”

The game was tied at halftime thanks to Bonner draining a three-point shot with 1.3 seconds left in the second quarter. The game was tied at 38-38 early in the third quarter when Hiedeman hit a jumper in the lane to put the Sun up by two.

After the Wings missed the jumper, the Sun corralled the rebound and it was Bonner finding Thomas, who scored off the backboard to give the Sun a four-point lead. After Dallas cut it to two, it was Bonner who found an open Hiederman, who drained a three-point shot for a five-point lead, 45-40.

Bonner hit a pair of foul shots with 4:54 remaining in the quarter and Thomas drove to the hole to complete a 15-4 run that gave the Sun a nine-point lead.

Brionna Jones scored twice in the lane off assists from Bonner as the Sun built an 11-point lead.

Meanwhile, the Wings scored just one field in the final six minutes of the third quarter and the first 4:12 of the fourth quarter as Connecticut built their lead to 19.

“The emotion that (Dewanna) plays with it fuels our whole team,” Miller said. “When you see Dewanna playing with that emotion, you can just feel it throughout our bench and with the players on the floor. That energy and passion is contagious. Certainly, our whole team was feeling that.”

Dallas finished with 20 field goals, tying a Sun playoff record for fewest field goals allowed in a game. The Wings missed 13 straight three-point shots at one point.

“It was a collective effort,” Miller said. “There was a lot of focus on what we had to defensively and our players really believed in what we were going to do. They went out and executed it and were totally disruptive. That is who we are.”

Added Thomas, “This is what we are used to doing, playing defense like that. We’re an experience team and it was time to impose ourselves (on the game).”

Marina Mabrey led the Wings with 20 points while Veronica Burton had 10 points and Teaira McCowan had eight points and 12 rebounds.

NOTES: The last time that the Sun captured a winner-take-all game was in 2004 when they beat the Washington Mystics, 76-56 in the Eastern Conference finals. Coming into the game, the Sun were 1-8 in winner-take-all games in the WNBA playoffs. … On Wednesday night, the Sun outscored Dallas in the paint, 42-24 and in second-chance points, 20-4.

WNBA first round
No. 6 Dallas (18-18) vs. No. 3 Connecticut (25-11)

Thursday, Aug. 18
Connecticut 93, Dallas 68
Sunday, Aug. 21
Dallas 89, Connecticut 79
Wednesday, Aug. 24
Connecticut 73, Dallas 58, Connecticut wins series, 2-1

Game 3 boxscore: Connecticut 73, Dallas 58

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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