The Connecticut Sun look to run their winning streak to six games Thursday night when they host a Phoenix Mercury team coming off a frustrating defeat.
The Sun (14-6) maintained a share of the best record in the league with the Las Vegas Aces after a 100-94 victory over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday night, avenging an 18-point loss in the first meeting between the teams. Jonquel Jones had 27 points to pace five players in double figures and also pulled down 11 rebounds for her 10th double-double.
“It’s a big win against a really talented offensive team,” Sun coach Curt Miller said per the team’s official Twitter account. “We set the tone in the first half with 57 points, we executed well on both ends and ran the tempo where we needed it and showed toughness.”
Connecticut, which is trying to sweep a four-game homestand bracketing the All-Star break, is 10-1 at Mohegan Sun Arena and has averaged 86.8 points in a four-game winning streak there. Jasmine Thomas, who scored 18 points in Tuesday night’s win, has averaged 16.0 points on 67.6 percent shooting in her last four games while hitting 8 of 11 from 3-point range.
Jones has three of her double-doubles in the last five games while missing by a combined three boards in the other two. The league’s leading rebounder at 10.3 per contest, the All-Star center is averaging 18.0 points and 9.8 rebounds during Connecticut’s winning streak.
Phoenix (10-9) has prided itself on an improved defense that has done well to compensate for the season-long absence of WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi for all but one game. That defense, though, had repeated breakdowns Tuesday night when the Mercury ended up on the wrong end of a 99-93 scoreline at Washington.
It was a season worst in points allowed for the Mercury, who had held their previous seven opponents under 80 and had a three-game winning streak snapped. Washington shot 53.3 percent and committed just eight turnovers as All-Stars Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver combined for 58 points.
The frustration, though, comes from the fact Phoenix squandered superb offensive performances from All-Stars Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner along with Leilani Mitchell. The league’s leading scorer, Griner continued to overpower opposing defenses in the low post and finished with 30 points while Bonner added 25.
But it was Mitchell who provided the biggest surprise, matching a WNBA record with eight three-pointers en route to a career-best 28 points. Mitchell is shooting better from 3-point range (44.8 percent) than overall (43.2) and is averaging a career-high 11.9 points as one of the players trying to lessen the scoring burden on Griner and Bonner with Taurasi sidelined.
Taurasi’s lone appearance this year came in the Mercury’s previous visit near her alma mater, but the Sun pulled away in the second half for a 79-64 victory July 12. Jones, Alyssa Thomas and Courtney Williams all recorded double-doubles as Connecticut broke open a close game by outscoring Phoenix 27-12 in the third quarter. Bonner had 20 points but Griner was held to 10 on 4-of-12 shooting.
(Jonquel Jones photo courtesy Connecticut Sun official Twitter account)