Bring on the WNBA Finals.
For the first time since 2005, the Sun have punched their ticket to the final round of the postseason after sweeping the Sparks at the Staples Center on Sunday. Connecticut cruised to victory in Game 3 of the best-of-five set, dominating Los Angeles in the 78-56 series clincher.
Sun captain Jasmine Thomas had herself one heck of a night, scoring 29 of the Sun’s 78 points. Courtney Williams (17 points, 13 rebounds) recorded a double-double in what was yet another dominant performance by the 5-foot-8 point guard.
Now, the Sun have a date with destiny come Sept. 29. Which opponent they’ll face, however, has yet to be determined.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Courtney Williams
SG: Jasmine Thomas
SF: Shekinna Stricklen
PF: Alyssa Thomas
C: Jonquel Jones
SUN FIND SPARK
After a bit of a slow start for both teams, the Sun found a spark in the first.
Courtney Williams sank Connecticut’s first seven points all on her own, leading the Sun to an early 7-4 lead.
Connecticut extended its lead to seven with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
The Sparks slowly chipped away at the Sun’s lead in the final two minutes of the quarter, eventually bringing themselves within three.
The Sun led 14-11 after 10 minutes. Williams paced all scorers with nine points.
CONNECTICUT EXTENDS LEAD
After a quick slip-up early, the Sun managed to take control in the second quarter.
The Sparks kicked off the quarter with a quick five-point run to take a 16-14 lead, but Jasmine Thomas knocked down a three to give Connecticut the lead once again.
Jasmine Thomas began heating up in the second, helping lead the Sun to a 29-18 advantage midway through the quarter.
LA tried to push back some, bringing itself within three with just two minutes left in the half. But Natisha Hiedeman made sure that’s as close as the Sparks would get, sinking a three from the corner to make it 36-30.
Both squads sank one more bucket each before the buzzer sounded for halftime, with the Sun leading 40-32 after 20 minutes.
SUN BREAK AWAY
Things only got better for the Sun in the third quarter.
Williams and Jasmine Thomas continued to lead the charge as Connecticut quickly took a commanding 18-point lead through the first half of the third.
LA found a bit of life in the final minutes of the quarter, but Connecticut managed to respond nearly every single time. Some clutch defense also helped the Sun’s cause.
The Sun found themselves up 19 on the Sparks with just 10 minutes left in the game, leaving LA’s season hanging in the balance.
Connecticut sealed the deal in the fourth.
The Sun piled on to their third-quarter success, extending their lead to 22 with some help from Jasmine Thomas (again) and Hiedeman.
There simply wasn’t much more to it. Despite netting 12 points to Connecticut’s 15 in the final quarter, LA found itself in far too deep a hole to climb out of. And just like that, its hopes at seeing the WNBA Finals were dashed.
Connecticut’s hopes, on the other hand, were realized as it walked away with a 22-point Game 3 victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Sun will take on the winner of the Las Vegas Aces-Washington Mystics series in the WNBA Finals beginning Sunday, Sept. 29. The Mystics currently lead the series 2-1.