This certainly wasn’t the game the Sun were hoping for.
Connecticut dropped Game 3 of the WNBA Finals 94-81 to the Mystics on Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena, allowing Washington to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Elena Delle Donne remained in the Mystics’ starting lineup after being diagnosed with a herniated disk in her back earlier this week, netting 13 points Sunday afternoon. But it was Kristi Toliver and Natasha Cloud who led the way for Washington, scoring 20 and 19 points apiece, respectively.
The Mystics now are just one win away from claiming the championship. If the Sun want to stay alive, a Game 4 victory is an absolute must.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Courtney Williams
SG: Jasmine Thomas
SF: Shekinna Stricklen
PF: Alyssa Thomas
C: Jonquel Jones
MYSTICS DOMINATE EARLY
It didn’t take long for the Mystics to take control.
Jasmine Thomas opened up Sunday’s game by doing what the Sun do best — turning defense into offense.
Another flat start for the Sun, however, allowed the Mystics to quickly build a healthy lead. The two squads did go bucket-for-bucket early in the first, but it was Washington that gained control early, opening up an eight-point lead midway through the quarter.
But it was all Mystics for the rest of the quarter, with Washington going on a 14-5 run to wrap up the first 10 minutes of Game 3. In fact, the Mystics’ 32 points set a WNBA record for most points scored in the first quarter.
And just like that, the Sun found themselves down 32-17 entering the next quarter.
SUN CLAW BACK
After being faced with a 15-point deficit in the first, the Sun showed what they’re truly made of in the second.
Connecticut kicked off the quarter with a quick eight points, but Washington countered that with seven of its own.
A Jasmine Thomas floater brought the Sun within 12 midway through the quarter.
After allowing LaToya Sanders to sink one from beyond the arc, the Sun went on a monster 12-0 run, trimming the Mystics’ lead to a single bucket.
Washington did manage to net two points at the buzzer, but its 15-point lead had been cut to four.
Jasmine Thomas led all scorers with 11 points through the first 20 minutes.
SUN LOSE STEAM
The Sun’s luck slowly turned in the third.
Jones kicked off the half with three quick points, bringing the her team within one.
Connecticut kept itself within striking distance, staying within five through the first half of the third. A couple heads-up plays by Shekinna Stricklen helped bring the Sun within three.
Washington reopened a 13-point lead as time wound down in the third. Connecticut managed to get two back before the end of the third, going into the final 10 minutes down 11.
MYSTICS SEAL THE DEAL
There simply wasn’t enough time in the fourth for the Sun to get the job done.
The Mystics extended their lead to 17 with a 9-3 run to start the fourth.
After some pushback from the Sun, Toliver extended the Mystics’ lead to 18 with a WNBA Finals record 16th three of the night.
Connecticut still had some fight left, going on a 12-4 run midway through the fourth.
But Washington maintained its double-figure lead through the final minutes of the quarter. The Mystics routed the Sun 94-81 and now are just one game away from winning it all.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Mystics can become this year’s WNBA champions come Tuesday when they square off against the Sun in Game 4 of the Finals. Tip-off at Mohegan Sun Arena is slated for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images