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Game 4 Recap: New York Liberty beat Connecticut Sun to earn first Finals berth since 2002

The No. 2 seed New York Liberty held on late thanks to some big plays by Jonquel Jones, finishing off the No. 3 seed Connecticut Sun and punching their ticket to the WNBA Finals.

2023 WNBA Playoffs - New York Liberty v Connecticut Sun
The New York Liberty are headed to the WNBA Finals for the first time in 21 years.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The game came down to the wire, but the No. 2 seed New York Liberty hung on to beat the No. 3 seed Connecticut Sun 87-84, thanks largely to a 5-0 run by former Sun Jonquel Jones in the game's final minute.

JJ s(t)ealed the deal

Jones ended the night with 25 points and 15 rebounds. She only had one steal—but it was a big one. Swiping the ball with 42 seconds left to give the Liberty a five-point lead. It wasn’t just the Jones show; her other star teammates came to play. Betnijah Laney scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds as she played all 40 minutes, giving her 20 or more points in all three Liberty victories this series. Breanna Stewart was her MVP self on Sunday, leading the game with 27 points and also playing the whole game.

For Connecticut, it was a valiant effort, but they fell short, losing by three and failing to get a shot off on their final possession when Tiffany Hayes penetrated to the basket but was unable to kick out to a shooter for a game-tying 3. Instead, she attempted a late two-point shot that wouldn’t have changed the result of the game. She ended the night with 15 points.

A MVP-caliber second quarter from Stewie

The opening quarter went well for Connecticut at home, as they outscored New York 23-19. Alyssa Thomas was the spark plug of the Sun’s offense with eight points, five rebounds and four assists in the first. Her impact and value for Connecticut cannot be understated. She ended the night with a triple-double of 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

In the second quarter, Breanna Stewart went to work. She went on her own 7-0 run midway through the quarter to close the deficit and turn the momentum in New York’s favor. She scored nine of her 25 points in the second. After a fastbreak bucket by Sabrina Ionescu, the Liberty headed into the break up by one.

New York continued to apply pressure during the second half, starting out on a 7-0 run. The Liberty offense was humming, with all starters attacking the basket aggressively except for Courtney Vandersloot, who was focused on facilitating the ball. Vandersloot ended the night with seven dimes as the Liberty looked poised to cruise to victory, up by eight entering the final quarter.

Connecticut battled until the end

However, this is the Connecticut Sun. They’ve been here before and anyone who thought they would fold quietly at home hasn’t watched this team over the last five seasons. Connecticut started the final frame on an 8-0 run led by DiJonai Carrington, Tiffany Hayes and Ty Harris. The deficit dwindled to one and we had ourselves a ball game. Harris deserves a ton of credit for coming off the bench and scoring eight of her ten points in the fourth. With the Sun only going eight players deep, they needed everyone to contribute and Harris did so in Game 4.

Connecticut took a brief 75-74 lead with 2:53 left in the game, but the Liberty stars did what stars do when games are hanging in the balance—they took control and closed their opponent out. Stewart hit a 3 to take back the lead. On the following possession, she converted a pair of free throws. With under a minute left, Jones was an integral part of every play. She hit five free throws, grabbed every 50-50 ball and her steal on an inbounds pass made it a two-possession game.

Connecticut never folded, as Harris responded with back-to-back 3s to make it a one-point game with 7.1 seconds left. Stewart then stepped up and hit both shots from the charity stripe. On the last possession of the game, the Sun’s season ended in a whimper, unable to get a shot off in time.

Connecticut now heads to the offseason knowing they tested New York, but just didn’t have enough to beat them in a series. The WNBA Finals are now set, with the No. 1 Las Vegas Aces facing off against the No. 2 seed New York Liberty in the matchup most of the WNBA world wanted. These are the two “super teams.” They were the best two teams all season long and they’ve already given us some fantastic games in 2023, including the Commissioner’s Cup Final and a regular season series which ended even at 2-2. Both teams will now get some much-needed rest as the WNBA Finals won’t begin until Sunday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.