The Sun’s West Coast swing didn’t start the way Connecticut was hoping, with a 77-70 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks at the Staples Center on Friday.
This was the first time the Sun have played against forward Chiney Ogwumike since she was traded to the Sparks in April. The 27-year-old scored an impressive 20 points in her first game against her former team as Los Angeles walked away with the victory.
Jonquel Jones led the Sun with a double-double, posting 16 points and an incredible 20 rebounds against the Sparks. Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas followed close behind, each with 14 points.
The Sun dropped to 2-1 with the loss, while the Sparks improved to 1-1 with the win.
Here’s how it all played out:
PG: Jasmine Thomas
SG: Courtney Williams
SF: Shekinna Stricklen
PF: Alyssa Thomas
C: Jonquel Jones
SUN, SPARKS TRADE LEADS
The Sun and the Sparks were pretty evenly matched to start Friday’s game, trading the lead a number of times through the first quarter.
Jonquel Jones got the scoring started for the Sun with this impressive bucket:
Forward Alyssa Thomas went down early in the quarter after a nasty collision, clinging to her hip as she exited the court. She eventually reentered the game, but spent most of the first half on the bench.
With the Sun down four, Bria Holmes came up with a key layup with 1:30 left in the quarter to keep the Sparks within reach.
The Sun trailed 21-19 to end the first 10 minutes of the game. Jonquel Jones paced the team with seven points in the first.
SUN KEEP THINGS CLOSE
Not much space was made between the two teams in the second quarter, either.
Brionna Jones got things going for the Sun in the second with thanks to a killer pass from Jonquel.
The Sparks tried to hold a one-bucket lead throughout much of the second, but the Sun were relentless. Jasmine Thomas tied the game at 23 following this nifty stop-and-pop with eight minutes left in the half.
The Sun briefly took the lead with four minutes left in the half thanks to a pick-and-roll by Jonquel Jones.
Just a minute later, Jonquel came up with an enormous block to keep the game knotted at 27.
After allowing the Sparks to go on a 5-0 run, Courtney Williams came up with a clutch basket to bring the Sun within one.
The Sparks extended their lead, however, with a 38-31 score at halftime.
Jonquel Jones led the Sun with nine points and 11 rebounds heading into the second half. Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 15 points and seven rebounds.
SPARKS MAINTAIN LEAD
The Sun were looking to make a bit of a comeback in the third quarter.
After Williams kicked off the half with two points for the Sun, Jasmine Thomas sank this monstrous 3-pointer to bring Connecticut within three.
Williams scored Connecticut’s next bucket on a beautiful jumper, bringing the Sun within three yet again.
The Sparks continued to extend their lead throughout the quarter as turnovers proved costly for the Sun. After 30 minutes, Connecticut’s 10 turnovers had led to 11 points for the Sparks.
The Sun trailed the Sparks 54-45 after three quarters. Alyssa Thomas returned to the game in the third.
SUN COMEBACK SQUASHED
With just 10 minutes left to play, the Sun turned on the jets.
After scoring a quick two points to start the third, Rachel Banham helped cut the Sparks’ lead to four with a key 3-point basket.
After allowing Los Angeles to take a nine-point lead, the Sun started finding their own spark. Layshia Clarendon’s jumper with 7:45 left in the game kicked off Connecticut’s seven-point run.
Alyssa Thomas’s layup just 30 seconds later brought the Sun within five.
Then it was Williams again with another clutch bucket, cutting the Sparks’ lead to two.
With the score still tight, Jonquel Jones got the and-one to keep the Sun alive.
But the Sparks ultimately hung on to the lead for the final minute-and-a-half of the game, defeating the Sun by seven points. It was Los Angeles’ first win of the season, while Connecticut suffered its first loss.
PLAY OF THE GAME
This bucket may have come early in the contest, but boy, was it impressive.
The Sun will continue their West Coast swing when they take on the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun