Connect with us


Sun explode in first quarter to remain alive in WNBA finals

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas goes to the basket in game three of the WNBA finals at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun remained alive with a dominating 105-76 victory.

UNCASVILLE, Sept. 15, 2022 – The game wasn’t three minutes old and the visiting Las Vegas Aces already had a steal, a three-point basket from Jackie Young, four points from league MVP A’ja Wilson and a seven-point lead on the Connecticut Sun.

Thirty seconds later, Young drained another three-point shot and the lead was eight for the Aces that need one victory in the WNBA finals to bring home their first league championship.

But there was no panic with the Sun. Before head coach and general manager Curt Miller could say a word, the team’s veterans were sharing the message of calmness and a focus on the task at hand.

The Sun outscored Las Vegas, 30-7, in the final seven minutes of the first quarter and remained alive with an impressive 106-76 victory over the Aces before 8,745 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Connecticut won their first game in the best-of-5 championship series and cut Las Vegas’ lead in the series to 2-1.

Connecticut led by as many as 23 points in the first half. The Aces cut the lead to six after the third quarter.

But the Sun opened up the fourth quarters with a steal from Thomas and a drive to the basket. Dewanna Bonner, who had her best game of the series with 18 points, cut to the basket off a nice feed from Thomas and it was Bonner who pulled down an offensive rebound and put it back in to close out a 6-0 surge that pushed the lead back to 14 points.

Las Vegas didn’t score a basket in the final 6:19 of the game.

“Connecticut came in, with a better mental approach than we did,” Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon said. “I don’t know if we thought we were just going it show up and they were going to lay down and hand us the trophy, but we should know better by now.

“That’s a team that is very resilient. If there’s one thing that this team, if you could encapsulate Connecticut, it’s physical, and very resilient. And they have kind of a battle-type mentality, and we didn’t match that tonight, in any category.”

They call Alyssa Thomas the engine in Connecticut and she was on Thursday night. She had the first triple double in WNBA finals history with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. She also had a pair of steals.

“She brings a toughness to our team,” Bonner said. “Really when you say she’s the engine, she’s the engine. Don’t use that loosely.”

Jonquel Jones had 20 points, sinking eight of 12 shots from the floor while Natisha Hiedeman had 14 points. Brionna Jones had 12 points with Courtney Williams chipping in with 11.

“We got contributions from everyone,” Miller said.

Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson driveso the basket in game three of the WNBA finals Thursday in Uncasville. The Sun won, 105-76.

The Sun were dominant in the paint scoring a WNBA finals record 64 points. The Sun had 43 field goals, the second-most shots made in WNBA finals history on 32 assists.

The first quarter by Connecticut was historic. It was the most points in the first quarter in WNBA finals history and the Sun converted on 82 percent of their shots (14-of-17), another WNBA finals record. The Sun had 12 assists in the quarter – a WNBA finals and postseason record.

“There’s no panic. We were still settling into our game plan,” Thomas said of the Sun’s early first period struggles. “We were a little overly aggressive. We had a lot of good looks at the basket. The shots just didn’t go in. We just cleaned up a little bit and focused on the game plan at task and once we got that going, there was no looking back.”

Jackie Young had 22 points, including 5-of-10 from three-point range, to lead the Aces. A’ja Wilson had 19 points with Kelsey Plum adding 17.

“This game was about physicality and mental toughness, and they smoked us on it, period,” Hammon said. “The physical follows, but the mental (toughness) for them was there and not us. And kudos to them for executing their game plan and executing it hard.

“They didn’t do it a whole lot different. They just did it harder,” she said. “They have been blitzing us the whole series. They just did it harder, and we responded soft.”

The Sun improved to 4-0 in the playoffs in elimination games, winning a pair of games against the Chicago Sky, including game five on the road to earn a spot in the final.

Game four is Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

“That’s a gritty team, and when you tell them they can’t do something, it’s going to make them try even harder and compete like crazy,” Miller said. “There’s just so much pride in that locker room that we are who we are. They thrive when their backs are against the wall and they thrive when someone tells them they can’t do something.”

2022 WNBA finals
Sunday, Sept. 11
Las Vegas 67, Connecticut 64
Tuesday, Sept. 13
Las Vegas 85, Connecticut 71
Thursday, Sept. 15
Connecticut 105, Las Vegas 76, Las Vegas leads series, 2-1
Sunday, Sept. 18
Game 4: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, Sept. 20
Game 5: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 9 p.m. (ESPN), if necessary

Game 2 boxscore: Aces 85, Sun 71


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.

More in WNBA