The Connecticut Sun knew what was at stake heading into Wednesday’s game: A win meant a share of first place. A loss would put them in third place.
It wasn’t easy, and a lot of it wasn’t pretty, but the Sun defeated the New York Liberty 70-63 to rejoin the Las Vegas Aces at the top of the table heading into the All-Star break.
After trailing by three at halftime, the Sun pushed “play” on what has become their trademarked third-quarter defense, holding the Liberty to 2-of-15 shooting and just seven points. In the fourth quarter, the Sun put up its biggest point total of any period to close out the game.
Jasmine Thomas led Connecticut with 18 points and a season-high 6 rebounds. Courtney Williams and Jonquel Jones rounded out the double-digit scoring with 13 and 12 points, respectively. All-Star Alyssa Thomas grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, and fellow All-Star Jones added 10 of her own.
New York saw two players score in double figures: All-Star Tina Charles led with a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double, while Bria Hartley scored 12 points. The Liberty’s second All-Star, Kia Nurse, had a game more reflective of New York’s shooting woes: Nurse converted a pair of free throws for her only points in 18 minutes.
Nothin' but a G thing, baaaabbby!— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) July 24, 2019
JJ from downtown. pic.twitter.com/Reh758yXtt
Although the Sun shot just 35.5 percent, including 35.3 percent from three, their defense was the story of this game. Both teams are in the middle of the pack as far as points per game, but differ much more when it comes to opponent points per game and opponent field goal percentage (the Liberty come in last in both areas).
In the end, Connecticut didn’t need an offensive onslaught to win — simply continuing to play how they’ve been playing and taking advantage of where New York falls short was enough.
The Sun’s Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones and the Liberty’s Tina Charles and Kia Nurse will play in Saturday’s All-Star Game. But first, on Friday, Nurse and the Sun’s Shekinna Stricklen will compete in the Three-Point Contest and Jones will compete in the Skills Challenge.
After the All-Star break, the Sun host the Chicago Sky on Tuesday, July 30 (7 p.m. ET, NBA TV). The Liberty won’t play again until Thursday, August 1, when they’ll hit the road to face the Dallas Wings (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).