Jones leads Sun past Fever

Indianapolis, Ind. — The Connecticut Sun kept going inside to open things up on the outside in the first half of Sunday’s WNBA game.

It paid off in the second half as the Sun rained threes down on Indiana.

Jonquel Jones had 26 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals as the Connecticut Sun pulled away in the third quarter for a 76-63 win over the Indiana Fever on Sunday before 6,434 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Sun missed eight of nine 3-pointers in the first half.

Connectiucut made 9 of 13 3-pointers in the second half. That included four during a decisive 20-2 third-quarter run.

“In the first half, we had a strong emphasis on getting in the paint,” Sun Jasmine Thomas said. “We know that they’re a tough team. … They’re great defensively; got some people that can really get in lanes and get steals. So we wanted to just put the pressure on them and get in the paint. And then in the second half we were able to score a little bit outside.

“I think we had nine threes, not as many field goals (13 overall), but we were able to knock it down from outside.”

Thomas made all five of her shots for 14 points with six assists and five rebounds for Connecticut (11-6), which is in second place in the overall WNBA standings.

The Sun’s Shekinna Stricklen also made four 3-pointers, scoring all of her points (12) in the third quarter.

“We got into the paint in the first half, and I think that opened it up for us in the second half and allowed us to use our legs (to make outside shots)” Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said. “That’s not easy to do. (It was our) three games in five days on the road.”

Connecticut shot better from behind the arc (45.5 percent) than the Fever did from the floor (37.1).

Betnijah Laney had 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals for Indiana (6-12). Kelsey Mitchell scored a team-high 14, too.

The Fever’s Candice Dupree scored 11 and moved past Lisa Leslie for sixth-place on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list (6,267).

“I told our team I thought allowing just 76 points should be enough for a win in this league,” Indiana’s Pokey Chatman said. “We have been hammering all week about transition defense. We got some steals and I thought we were doing a good job on that end, but we did not take advantage on the offensive end.”

The Fever’s Natalie Achonwa scored five straight to cut Connecticut’s lead to 42-39 with 5 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter. She finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Jones responded by making a 16-foot jumper and a 3-pointer to start the 20-2 run.

“JJ’s a tough matchup for any post player in this league,” Chatman said. “You have to take her away from her comfort shots, but she can beat you in so many ways, (so) that’s a tall order. She’s a tremendous player.”

Stricklen finished the run with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Sun ahead, 62-41, with 53.1 seconds left in the quarter.

“The second half, we just have to do a better job making reads defensively,” Dupree said about the Sun’s dribble penetration. “(We) can’t over-help knowing you’re guarding a knock-down shooter in the corner. So, we gotta clean it up. Be a little closer on the ball screens (and) eliminate the dribble penetration.”

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