It’s hard to believe that Alyssa Thomas — in the ninth season of a career defined by all-round box score-stuffing play — had never compiled a triple-double. With the Connecticut Sun playing a third-straight game without reigning MVP Jonquel Jones, who remained in health and safety protocols, Thomas’ first triple-double came at just the right time.
She achieved the arbitrary-but-admired statistical milestone as Connecticut defeated the Minnesota Lynx 94-84 on Friday night in Minneapolis.
With just over 16 seconds left in the game, Thomas snagged the elusive 10th rebound, giving her a total of 15 points, 12 assists and 10 boards. It was the first triple-double in Sun franchise history.
To dive deeper into the circumstantial statistical minutiae, Thomas became the first WNBA player to post a 15-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound and three-steal statline. And, while not fact checked, she also is the first player to notch a triple-double with two torn labrums.
AT overcomes turnover fest with expected excellence
The achievement also was timely for Thomas on a personal level.
On Sunday, when the Sun fell 91-83 to the Las Vegas Aces at home, she tallied a season-high nine turnovers. As a team, Connecticut coughed up the ball 22 times, their second-highest turnover total of the season. Vegas scored 33 points off these turnovers, making it seem rather miraculous that the final margin was only eight points. While Thomas did grab a season-high 14 boards and dish six assists against the Aces, she only scored five points, her second-lowest total of the season.
Before doing it all on Friday night, Thomas turned in a more characteristic performance of 18 points, 13 rebounds, six steals and five assists on Wednesday morning in Uncasville, when the Sun used an overwhelming fourth quarter to defeat the New York Liberty 82-63.
Carrington, Bonner also come up big
Thomas was not the only Sun who stepped up to help the squad secure two rather comfortable wins in J. Jones’ absence.
DiJonai Carrington proved a key factor in Connecticut’s run away win over New York. She scored 14 of her season-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 4-of-5 shots, draining a pair of 3-pointers and getting to the line for four free throws in the final period. On Friday night, she contributed an efficient nine points in 27 minutes of action.
Against Minnesota, DeWanna Bonner provided the extra scoring juice, going for 20 points on an 8-of-12 shooting showcase that included three 3-pointers.
Because the Sun established control over the Lynx before halftime, Bria Hartley had the opportunity to play more extended minutes with her new team. Hartley saw a season-high 19 minutes and scored a season-best 11 points, netting 3-of-6 from deep. Now, it will be encouraging to see If she can replicate such a shooting performance in a more tightly-contested game.
What’s next for Connecticut?
Sunday night, the Sun will play a second-straight game against the Lynx in Minnesota.
It’s always tough to beat a team in consecutive contests, especially on their home floor. That the Sun enjoyed shooting luck on Friday night — 55.2 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from 3 — further suggests that Connecticut should not expect to earn another easy victory.
Of course, the likely return of Jones, who initially was listed as probable for Friday’s game, could change this equation. Even if she eases back into the lineup with limited minutes, the presence of the Bahamian Beast can open more opportunities for the Sun to exploit and attack the Lynx on both ends of the floor.
The Sun then will return to southeast Connecticut, preparing to host the Seattle Storm on Wednesday evening and the league-leading Chicago Sky next Sunday afternoon.