The Connecticut Sun were dealt an early blow in Game 2 of the WNBA semifinals, but it was the team’s turnovers and A’ja Wilson which propelled the Las Vegas Aces to a 83-75 victory Tuesday night.
Connecticut starting forward Alyssa Thomas, who has averaged 18 points and nine rebounds in the WNBA playoffs, exited the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter and never returned. Teammates DeWanna Bonner (23 points, seven rebounds) and Briann January (20 points) did everything they could to hold Vegas off, even maintaining the lead for much of the game, but weren’t able to pull it out down the stretch.
The top-seeded Aces now even it up, 1-1, against No. 7 Connecticut in the best-of-five series.
Connecticut turned the ball over 17 times in the contest, including six in the fourth, when they were outscored 24-12.
Wilson, the WNBA MVP, finished with a franchise record and game-high 29 points, including a pair of clutch finishes in the final minute to help the Aces pull away.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Jasmine Thomas
SG: Briann January
SF: DeWanna Bonner
PF: Alyssa Thomas
C: Brionna Jones
TIGHT FROM THE START
Connecticut and Las Vegas went back and fourth in the first with neither team leading by more than four points before the Sun took a 23-21 advantage after the first quarter.
January led the Sun early on, scoring seven of the first nine points for the squad before leading the team with nine points. Bonner was equally impressive through the late minutes of the period, finishing the quarter with eight points.
Alyssa Thomas scored the first basket of the game for the Sun before exciting midway through the quarter.
Even shorthanded, the Sun still were able to keep the pressure on the Aces, taking a 39-38 lead at the half.
Connecticut shot 44.1% from the field in the half (15-for-34) while Las Vegas converted on 42.1% of their shot attempts.
January led the way with 11 points in the half while Bonner remained with her eight first-quarter points and added three assists and two rebounds. Brionna Jones led the way on the glass with four boards to go along with her six points.
Las Vegas held a slight edge on the glass, 19-17.
GOING ON A RUN
The Sun took their largest lead of the game midway through the third quarter before taking a 63-59 advantage into the fourth and final quarter.
It was behind the two-headed monster of Bonner and January, who combine for 20 points in the period as Connecticut increased their shooting percentage to 48.1%.
Bonner scored 13 points in the third, heading into the fourth with a game-head 21 while January climbed to 18 in the game. The Sun benefited from shooting 42.9% from long range (6-for-14) while the Aces missed all three of their 3-point attempts.
WILSON LEADS VEGAS BACK
The Sun were outscored by 12 points in the fourth, most notably as the Aces scored the final eight points of the game.
A Jones basket in the paint tied the game at 75-all with 1:18 left. Wilson then converted on consecutive baskets in the paint, the first of which went for a traditional three-point play.
Connecticut missed their last three desperation chances as Vegas pulled it out.
Alyssa Thomas did, however, return to the bench late in the fourth and the Sun certainly are hoping she’ll be able to go for Game 3.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Credit where it’s due, the MVP did MVP things when it matter most.
Connecticut and Las Vegas will return to the floor for Game 3 on Thursday, with tip off set for 7:30 p.m. ET.