The Connecticut Sun on Friday night proved it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Sun didn’t find the bottom of the net until nearly halfway through the first quarter against the Mystics. But after collecting itself and finding a groove, Connecticut turned the Eastern Conference showdown into a back-and-forth affair and ultimately prevailed with an 86-81 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Jonquel Jones led the way for the Sun with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while DeWanna Bonner (17 points, 11 rebounds) also posted a double-double. Washington’s loss was to no fault of Tina Charles, who logged a game-high 29 points.
With the win, the Sun improved to 6-1, while the Mystics dropped to 2-4.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Jasmine Thomas
SG: Briann January
SF: DeWanna Bonner
PF: Brionna Jones
C: Jonquel Jones
It was a frustrating start for the Sun, who missed their first six shots of the contest and also were hit with a Jonquel Jones technical foul less than two minutes in. But Connecticut was able to weather Washington’s storm thanks in large to DiJonai Carrington. The reserve guard poured in eight points, which helped the Sun limit the Mystics’ lead to only four after one frame.
Sydney Wiese led all scorers in the first with nine points on an efficient 3-for-3 mark from beyond the arc.
Charles also gave the Sun fits early on with eight points.
STAYING THE COURSE
The Sun took their first lead of the game roughly half way through the second when Thomas — who scored seven points in the frame — drilled a 3-pointer.
From there, the sides traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter and the Mystics took a 47-44 edge into the break.
Jonquel Jones matched Thomas with seven second-quarter points. Unfortunately for the Sun, the opposing center posted an even stronger frame. Charles once again was a handful for Connecticut, as she led all scorers with 18 points at halftime.
GAME OF RUNS
It appears as though the Sun were on the cusp of pulling away as an 8-0 run gave the home team a 12-point lead with 4:16 left in the third.
But the final points of that run — a Brionna Jones and-1 — proved to be Connecticut’s final points of the quarter, as Washington closed the third with a 13-0 run to take a 63-62 lead into the fourth.
The Sun limited Charles to only one third-quarter point, but the trio of Ariel Atkins, Myisha Hines-Allen and Leilani Mitchell picked up the slack. Each player put up five points in the frame.
GRINDING IT OUT
Poise and sound defense proved to be the difference for the Sun in crunch time.
A Thomas 3-pointer gave Connecticut a four-point lead with 2:10 to go. After a Mitchell miss from beyond the arc on the other end, Bonner dished a perfect feed to a cutting Jonquel Jones, who swelled the Sun’s lead to six.
Washington trimmed its deficit to three with 16.7 seconds remaining on a pair of Charles free throws, but it wasn’t able to foul the Sun on the ensuing possession. The Sun were able to wipe away six seconds on a Brionna Jones drive and score. The Mystics stayed in hack mode as the Sun put the finishing touches on the victory.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Sun return to action Sunday when they visit the Minnesota Lynx. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.