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    Wednesday, December 06, 2023

    Sun dominate Sparks and clinch at least the No. 3 seed for WNBA playoffs

    Los Angeles — The Connecticut Sun played one of their most complete games of the season at a critical time.

    Jonquel Jones had 21 points and 10 rebounds, the Sun shots 50.7% from the floor and dominated the boards (40-23) on the way to a 97-71 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night before 5,789 at Crypto.com Arena.

    It was the fourth straight double-double for Jones, the reigning WNBA MVP, and her 11th of the season.

    The Sun (23-11) clinched no worse the No. 3 seed when the WNBA playoffs begin next week. They also have an outside shot of passing the Las Vegas Aces (24-10) for the No. 2 seed, but Connecticut must win its final two games and the Aces must their last two.

    The Sun play the Sparks (13-21) again Thursday night and close out the regular season on Sunday at home against the Minnesota Lynx. Las Vegas, which still has a chance to earn the No. 1 overall seed, hosts the first-place Chicago Sky (25-9) on Thursday and the Seattle Storm (21-13) on Sunday.

    Connecticut, which also shot 42.1% from beyond the 3-point line (8-for-19) and a perfect 13-for-13 from the line, had five players in double figures with Brionna Jones (14 points), Natisha Hiedeman (13), Alyssa Thomas (11) and DeWanna Bonner (10) joining Jonquel Jones.

    The Sun spotted Los Angeles a quick 7-0 lead, then used a pair of major runs to take control.

    Trailing 10-2 with 8:12 left in the opening quarter, Connecticut scored 16 straight points — capped by a Bonner 3-pointer — to take an 18-10 lead.

    The Sun led 27-17 after the one, getting points from seven different players, but after the Sparks pulled to within 35-30 with 4:58 left in the first half and forced head coach Curt Miller to call a timeout, Connecticut responded again.

    This time they finished the half on an 18-2 run, including the final 15 points of the half, to lead 53-32 at the break. Jonquel Jones was instrumental in that outburst, scoring 10 of those 18 points, including a pair of threes, and finished the half with 18 points and nine rebounds.

    “It was a nice win for us on the road after getting into that (10-2) hole,” Miller said. “We did a lot of nice things tonight. We did a good job on the glass. We did a good job in transition. Our bench was very solid for us.”

    Los Angeles, which committed 20 turnovers, never got closer than 18 points the rest of the night.

    Brittney Sykes scored 18 points to lead the Sparks while Nneka Ogwumike finished with 15 and Jordin Canada had 15 points and six assists.

    Ogwumike moved past Diana Taurasi for 22nd on the WNBA career steals list with 485.

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