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Analysis: Williams, Jones lifted Sun past the Aces, 80-74

The Connecticut Sun won their third game of the season behind Jonquel Jones’ double-double and Courtney Williams’ 19 points.

The Connecticut Sun improve to 3-1 on the season after defeating the Las Vegas Aces, 80-74.
Photo courtesy of Connecticut Sun via Twitter

The Connecticut Sun defeated the Las Vegas Aces on the road, 80-74, improving their record to 3-1.

Both teams entered this game with high intensity and a desire to win the battle of the boards. Connecticut and Las Vegas finished with 39 rebounds apiece. Throughout the game, there were plenty of lead changes. However, the Sun found themselves trailing by 10 late in the second quarter. But Courtney Williams and Jonquel Jones put on a show to help erase the double-digit deficit and win the game.

Jones dominated against the Aces and finished the night with a double-double (16 points and 13 rebounds). Jones may have struggled a bit from the floor, shooting 5-of-14 (35.7 percent), but her 3 steals and 3 blocks on defense helped her gain a rhythm. Williams contributed 19 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 7-of-14 (50 percent) from the field.

In addition, Williams scored the 1,000 point of her career. Her ability to score and get her teammates involved separates her from many guards in the league.

Although Williams and Jones led the charge, it was a total team effort by the Sun, with Alyssa Thomas (14 points) and Shekinna Stricklen (15 points) also scoring in double digits. The Sun didn’t receive a lot of help from the bench, but Rachel Banham hit a crucial fourth-quarter three with 8:28 remaining to extend Connecticut’s lead by four.

On the flip side, the Aces played okay behind A’ja Wilson’s 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Wilson had a better shooting night than in the Aces’ previous outing, shooting 9-of-11 (81 percent) from the floor. Kayla McBride (13 points), Dearica Hamby (10 points) and Liz Cambage (14 points) also scored double digits for the Aces.

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The contest was hard-fought and either team could have walked away with the victory. However, the three deciding factors in this game were rotations, points and steals.

As of now, it is clear the Aces are still trying to figure out their lineup as Cambage is still coming off the bench due to her Achilles injury. Aces coach Bill Laimbeer is still tinkering with the rotation as well. But the bench will shift once Cambage enters the starting lineup — at which point: BEWARE.

Another factor that affected the Aces was a lack of scoring. Only two starters, McBride and Wilson, scored in double figures while Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum went scoreless. Obviously, it’s only the third game of the season for Las Vegas. But having two starters go scoreless — especially a shooting guard in Young — can’t happen.

Connecticut was able to win this game because of its tough defense, transition offense and ball movement. The Sun finished with 14 steals and 8 blocks which helped spark their fast-break offense. The team only shot 33.8 percent from the floor compared to the Aces’ 43.8 percent, but the Sun attempted a few more shots to help with that disadvantage.

Next up for the Sun

The Sun are off to a great start, currently sitting at a 3-1 record. Connecticut will play its next game at home: On Thursday, June 6, at 7:00 p.m. ET, the Sun will take on the Los Angeles Sparks. Watch on WNBA League Pass (nationally) and NESN+ or Spectrum SportsNet (local markets).

Next up for the Aces

After Sunday’s tough loss, the Aces are 1-2 to start the season. Las Vegas will be on the road for its next matchup, taking on the Atlanta Dream on Thursday, June 6, at 7:00 p.m. ET. Watch on CBS Sports Network.