Sun turns again Aces in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Jonquel Jones sat alone courtside at Mohegan Sun Enviornment an hour earlier than Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, staring straight forward. She held a towel over her mouth, getting ready to start out her pregame capturing routine.

The Connecticut Sun was going through elimination after shedding the primary two video games of the best-of-five sequence, and Jones knew the stakes properly. The Sun was already ­0 for 3 in its earlier finals appearances, and the Connecticut ahead wasn’t prepared for this one to be over.

Behind 20 factors from the 2021 MVP, Connecticut prolonged the sequence with a 105-76 win, holding off a number of rallies from Las Vegas. Jones was considered one of six gamers in double figures for the Sun, whose 105 factors matched a season excessive.

“I normally do that … take a moment and sit and think about ways that I can impact the game, the series in general, how we can be better,” Jones stated. “It’s just a moment for me. Just appreciate the moment, but also understand how I can be better to help the team and ultimately how we can walk away with a W.”

The Sun is 4-0 in elimination video games throughout these 2022 playoffs. To remain alive, it is going to want that run to hit 6-0. Game 4 is slated for 4 p.m. Sunday right here in Connecticut. Game 5, if essential, could be Tuesday night time in Las Vegas.

Former Maryland stars assist energy Sun to WNBA Finals

All 5 Sun starters scored in double figures, with Jones an environment friendly 8-for-12 capturing. Alyssa Thomas recorded the primary triple-double in WNBA Finals historical past with 16 factors, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. She merely smiled because the feat was introduced and the house crowd stood and voiced its appreciation. DeWanna Bonner had her finest offensive sport of the sequence with 18 factors, six rebounds, 5 assists and two steals. Natisha Hiedeman added 14 factors and 9 assists whereas Courtney Williams posted 11 factors.

“She kind of gets us going,” Bonner stated of Thomas. “She been doing this all year, so shout out to her for getting another triple-double. But to do it in the playoffs is unbelievable. She brings a toughness to our team. Really, when you say she’s the engine, she’s the engine. Don’t use that loosely.

“Shout out to her. We were able to hit a couple shots tonight so she could get her triple-double, so she needs to thank me.”

The Sun performed with extra urgency all through Game 3, answering each time Las Vegas made a run. The Aces’ ultimate push got here late within the third quarter, when Riquna Williams’s three-pointer trimmed their deficit to 75-69. Connecticut then went on an 8-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.

A’ja Wilson, the reigning MVP and defensive participant of the 12 months, continued her dominant finals with 19 factors for the Aces. Jackie Younger awoke from her series-long capturing hunch and completed with a game-high 22 factors, together with going 5-for-10 behind the arc. Kelsey Plum added 17.

A’ja Wilson already has a statue. Now she wants a hoop.

The primary quarter was the perfect 10 minutes of the sequence for Connecticut, which led 34-19 by its finish, the very best scoring output for the Sun in a any quarter within the sequence. The Aces had dominated the primary quarter within the opening two video games, however Sun Coach Curt Miller had stated he wasn’t overly upset with the best way his group had began video games. He stated photographs simply hadn’t fallen. They fell Thursday night time.

Connecticut shot 82.4 p.c from the sphere within the first, with all six gamers who stepped on the ground scoring at the very least 4 factors. The Sun closed the quarter on a 25-4 run and held the Aces scoreless for the ultimate 2:02. That drought continued for the primary 3:43 of the second quarter as Connecticut pushed the result in 41-19.

“We threw a couple of knockouts in that first half, and all of a sudden it was an 11-point game,” Miller stated. “So there was poise coming out of halftime. There was poise during the runs in the second half, a maturity that even when they scored, they were confident with what we had planned and what we tried to scheme differently tonight.

“They just stuck to it and they stuck to the discipline, even through some of those stretches where they were scoring. Sometimes you overreact and you lose some of your discipline because you get a little bit anxious that they are having success. We stay disciplined and we stay poised all night.”

The dominance created a really feel to the night, one largely fueled by Thomas. The previous Maryland star hit a jumper close to the elbow along with her patented one-handed push-shot and shrugged her shoulders as she headed again on protection. Thomas will get most of her offense within the paint, however Thursday she prolonged out a bit.

When Thomas hit one other jumper close to the elbow to take that 41-19 lead within the second quarter, she turned towards the Las Vegas bench and let loose a primal scream.

Connecticut, nevertheless, relaxed halfway by way of the second quarter and gave the Aces life. Wilson hit three straight baskets earlier than three consecutive three-pointers from Chelsea Grey sparked a 14-5 run to shut the half. The 22-point lead was halved at intermission, 53-42.

The Aces trailed by single digits to finish the third quarter and gave the impression to be inside a very good run of taking a lead, however the Sun pulled away with a 28-7 fourth quarter, together with the sport’s ultimate 19 factors. Aces Coach Becky Hammon waved the white flag with 4:22 remaining.

“It was just energy, energy-wise and we lacked that,” Wilson stated. “And I’m going to take full accountability of that. We lacked energy at the end of the day, and you need that coming into a road game like this.

“They looked new. They looked fresh. I think that was the biggest difference. They just came out and wanted it more and we can’t be like that. I don’t care what game it is, we can’t be like that at all.”

The Sun outscored the Aces 64-26 within the paint after Las Vegas gained the paint by 18 factors in Game 2. Connecticut received robust minutes from its bench, outscoring the Aces 26-5. It additionally gained the turnover battle 16-11 whereas outscoring Vegas 26-10 off these turnovers.

“Oh, I’ve got a ticked-off crew in there,” Hammon stated. “I’m not going to have to say much. Go back. Look at ways we can exploit what they are doing and go throw the ball up. This game was about physicality and mental toughness, and they smoked us on it, period. The physical follows, but the mental 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. They have been blitzing us the whole series. They just did it harder, and we responded soft.”

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