Following the snapping of their four-game winning streak last Friday, the Connecticut Sun enjoyed some well deserved time off before retaking the court on Wednesday. And they — immediately and authoritatively — got back to their winning ways.
After blowing out the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday and putting away the Seattle Storm on Friday, the Sun can claim a three-win week and three-game winning streak with a successful trip to the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon, when they play Washington Mystics at 2 p.m. ET (CBS).
Here’s a look back at key players from Connecticut’s two wins, as well as who might step up so the Sun can secure their 13th victory of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Connecticut Sun 105, Atlanta Dream 92: Courtney Williams, a nightmare for the Dream
At the halftime break, Sun sideline reporter Terrika Foster-Brasby asked Courtney Williams, who finished the first half with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, how she was “eating.”
A smiling Williams slyly responded, “You know we playing Atlanta so you know what time it is,” before adding, “I’m joking, I’m joking.”
Nevertheless, the Georgia native seemed to have an extra dose of motivation and moxie against her home state team, which, after the exposure of an off-court altercation, publicly announced that they would not be re-signing the then-soon-to-be free agent.
Williams made sure to show the Dream what they’re missing, delivering her best game of the season. While her midrange pull-up game was popping, Williams also buried two 3-pointers for good measure, demonstrating her full shooting arsenal on her way to a season-high 20 points.
Her shotmaking was infectious.
While Atlanta prioritized combatting the inside threat of the Joneses, Connecticut made them pay from deep, taking and making the a season-high number of 3-pointers. In the first half, the Sun drained 10-of-15 3-point attempts, with the 10 makes marking a new franchise record for a half. In addition to Williams, Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Natisha Hiedeman all made multiple 3s before the break, contributing to the Sun taking a commanding 58-41 lead into halftime.
Although the Sun’s shooting was not as scintillating in the second half, the squad did not take their foot off gas as they scored season-high 105 points and coasted to the 105-92 win.
Connecticut Sun 82, Seattle Storm 71: After a Stormy third quarter, DB buries buckets, Seattle down the stretch
With a 10-point halftime lead, 42-32, it seemed like Connecticut might cruise to a comfortable win over Seattle. The Joneses, in particular, were rolling, with Jonquel registering 10 points, four rebounds and three assists and Brionna adding 12 points before the half.
However, things got a little stormy in the third quarter, as Breanna Stewart put on a MVP-level performance with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, aiming to give teammate Sue Bird a win in her final (regular-season) game in Connecticut.
Yet, in the fourth quarter, DeWanna Bonner ruined Bird’s Connecticut finale.
The streaky Bonner caught fire, unleashing one of her signature shotmaking explosions. In the final frame, she went 6-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-2 from 3, to lead the Sun to the 11-point win, 82-71. But Bonner provided more than hot shooting, also grabbing four of the Sun’s eight rebounds in the final period.
As they have done multiple times this season, Connecticut also activated their defensive clamps down the stretch, combining intensity with an organized effort to cool Stewart and cause the Seattle offense to stall out.
What will it take to win in Washington?
In late May, the Sun used a clutch fourth quarter to get the 79-71 home win over the Mystics.
Sunday’s task will be tougher, not only because the game is in DC but also because Elena Delle Donne and Alysha Clark, both of whom missed the previous game, are expected to be in the lineup.
Washington’s strengths also have the potential to neutralize Connecticut’s.
The Mystics have the league’s second-best defense, with a defensive rating of 95.7, in large part because they prevent points in the paint and limit fouls. They also have held opponents’ second-chance and fastbreak opportunities in check.
The paint. Free throws. Second-chance points. Fastbreak buckets. These are the primary ways that the Sun generate points for their league-best offense.
Thus, offensive execution in the half court should be a priority for the Sun. One way to create good offense and possibly turn some of the Mystics’ strengths into weak points? Get the ball to Jonquel Jones!
In the previous contest against the Mystics, J. Jones had one of her quieter games, scoring nine points on only three field goal attempts. Although she was not the star in this week’s games, J. Jones encouragingly attempted 13 shots in both, an indication of increased aggressiveness from her, as well as a more intentional effort by Miller and her team to have her involved in the offensive attack.
Relying on JJ to put pressure on the Washington defense should put Connecticut in position to earn another win.