The Connecticut Sun are undefeated through their first two games of the 2021 season.
With an 86-78 win over the Phoenix Mercury that came down to the wire, the Sun showed that even without Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas, the Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner experience will be a good one.
In a thoroughly entertaining game where both teams played solid defense and shot well from the 3-point line, Bonner led the game with 27 points and five rebounds, while Jonquel Jones put up a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Hiedeman had a career-high 17 points starting for Connecticut, with Brionna Jones (nine points) and Briann January (15 points) making the difference down the stretch to hold on to the win.
Former UConn Huskies players on the Mercury like Kia Nurse and Megan Walker played well in their returns to Connecticut, led of course by Diana Taurasi’s 19 points.
After slow starts from Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner, they came alive for Phoenix in the second half, finishing with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
The Sun now are 2-0 with the win. Here’s how it all went down.
PF: DeWanna Bonner
C: Jonquel Jones
SF: Brionna Jones
SG: Briann January
PG: Natisha Hiedeman
TAURASI IN THE BUILDING
After Phoenix got out to a 5-0 lead, a collective effort from Jonquel Jones, Bonner and January helped Connecticut erase the early deficit and take a fleeting lead.
The Sun stayed pretty close through the quarter, but Taurasi was 3-for-4 with seven points in the frame to lead the Mercury out of the gates and give them some separation. Phoenix led by as many as eight points.
Bonner made it a one-point game with 4:33 on the clock, but the Mercury went on another small run. She had a game-high 10 points at the end of the quarter, as the Sun trailed 21-7.
GAME OF RUNS
Bonner hit a 3-pointer to start the second strong, and Hiedeman and Jonquel Jones followed that up with their own triples to get out on a 9-0 run. And it was Hiedeman’s shot that gave Connecticut a lead it never looked back from through the quarter.
When Diggins-Smith made two free throws to bring Phoenix back within two points, Briann January entered the chat.
Of note, Connecticut’s defense put in work against Phoenix’s Big 3.
Taurasi had nine points at the break, while Griner and Diggins-Smith had nine collectively.
The Sun led 37-33 at the break.
WE HAVE A GAME
With Jasmine Thomas still out, Hiedeman took advantage of her opportunity to start, drilling a 3-pointer to start the frame and drawing a foul a few possessions later.
And with Taurasi on the bench in foul trouble, the Sun got out to a 50-39 lead, their largest of the game, with just over 4 minutes left. And in the final minutes of the quarter, Phoenix managed on a 12-4 run to come within six points.
Griner came alive with 10 points at the end of the break, but the Sun still led 59-62 at the break.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Griner stayed hot into the final quarter, opening the frame with back-to-back field goals.
Diggins-Smith jacked up a 3-pointer that cut Connecticut’s lead to one point, but Hiedeman responded with a triple of her own.
With 6:23 on the clock, Taurasi hit a huge 3-pointer assisted by Brianna Turner to take a 65-64 lead, their first since the second quarter.
From there it was back-and-fourth, with Brionna Jones managing to tie things up for Connecticut at 71-all within 4 minutes.
After that, Jonquel Jones and Bonner lifted the Sun on one last small run, as Griner fouled out. Hiedeman hit a career-high, too.
In the final minute it was a three-point game, but a clutch long jumper from January sealed the deal, and Brionna Jones grabbed an offensive board on the next possession and buried it to put the sun up seven.
The Sun outscored the Mercury 27-26 in the fourth.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Credit where credit is due, Griner is an absolute beast.
The Sun will remain in Connecticut for their third game of the season, hosting the Indiana Fever on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET.