The Connecticut Sun are back in the win column.
After a disappointing loss to the Indiana Fever last weekend, which bookended a stretch of four games in seven days for the Sun, they had nearly a week off before they came up victorious over the Atlanta Dream, 84-72, on Friday to improve to 13-6.
A balanced effort marked Friday’s outing for the Sun. Though Jonquel Jones led with 24 points and 16 rebounds and DeWanna Bonner posted 22 points, five boards and four assists, the group had secondary scoring from Brionna Jones (16 points) and Briann January (11 points) to help seal the win.
Atlanta was limited in terms of its depth. In addition to missing Tiffany Hayes due to a knee injury, the Dream were missing Chennedy Carter, who was suspended indefinitely by the team Sunday after she got in an argument with teammate (and former Sun star) Courtney Williams.
The Dream (6-12) looked to Cheyenne Parker’s 15 points and six rebounds to lead things Friday.
With the win, the Sun clinched the Eastern Conference spot in the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup title game Aug. 12. The Seattle Storm are in position to earn the Western Conference spot.
Here’s the lowdown:
F: DeWanna Bonner
F: Jonquel Jones
C: Brionna Jones
G: Briann January
G: Jasmine Thomas
ON THE RUN
Connecticut jumped out to a 7-2 lead, holding the Dream from the field and only allowing a pair of free throws through the opening three-and-a-half minutes.
But with an opportunity to restart when Jonquel Jones and Brionna Jones made a pair of back-to-back turnovers, the Dream came fighting back. Atlanta went on a 7-2 run of its own to tie the game at nine points with 5:56 left in the frame.
That didn’t last. Bonner and Brionna Jones each hit a free throws to build a lead, and with a little help from January, a 10-0 run had the Sun rolling until the Dream came storming back.
Trading runs kept it a close game going into the second quarter, with the Sun up 21-16.
BACK-AND-FORTH WE GO
A slow start to the second quarter had the Sun playing from behind for the first time, when the Dream went up on an Aari McDonald three with 7:04 to play.
Jonquel Jones refused to let that last too long. A three of her own put Connecticut back on top less than a minute later, snapping a two-minute scoreless stretch for the Sun. That kind of clutch play is what earned her a third All-Star selection and a spot in the 3-Point Contest, and should earn her an MVP award.
The closing minutes of the second quarter were nothing like what preceded them. The sides traded buckets, moving in tandem from a 28-28 tie to knot things at 39 all. It was there that a combination of Thomas and January got the Sun on top heading into the third, 43-39.
BONNER BUILDS A LEAD
The Sun added to their lead to start the third by scoring four unanswered points. Even as the Dream came battling back, the Sun continued to build up the advantage.
Bonner broke a scoreless stretch for both sides by making a pair of free throws inside the four-minute mark, then added a jumper that changed the momentum for the Sun with 2:27 left in the quarter. After her J, Kaila Charles added two on a similar shot (with the Bonner assist) and January increased the lead with a three, giving the Sun another 10-point lead.
After a bit of back-and-forth, the Sun headed into the final frame with up 66-56, their biggest advantage at the end of a quarter.
FINISHING THE FIGHT
The middle quarters saw a largely even contest, and the fourth quarter was no different even with the Sun’s large lead.
Both sides went shot-for-shot, and two shooting fouls called on Connecticut that amounted to a total of five free throw attempts for the Dream had the chance to put the lead in jeopardy. Luckily for Connecticut, the Dream only capitalized on three of those.
Still, they weren’t going down easily. Back-to-back steals resulted in four quick points for the Dream, making it a four-point game with 4:13 left to play.
January and Bonner saved the lead with a pair of jumpers, sealing the 84-72 win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
*Insert heart eyes emoji here*
The Sun hit the road for one last game before the break. They’ll face the 10-10 New York Liberty on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.