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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Sun need to be more offensive vs. Aces in Game 2 of WNBA Finals

    Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner (24) secures a rebound with teammate Natisha Hiedeman and Las Vegas Aces guard Riquna Williams (2) close by during the second half in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/L.E. Baskow)
    Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) battles with Las Vegas Aces center Kiah Stokes during Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/L.E. Baskow)

    The Connecticut Sun were able to take some positives out of their loss to the Las Vegas Aces in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, in particular that their defense and physicality dragged the league’s highest scoring offense into the mud.

    The Sun need to make some shots themselves, however.

    Connecticut was able to impose its style against the top-seeded Aces, but lost 67-64 because its offense caved in during the second half.

    That loss puts the Sun in “must win” territory headed into Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Tuesday (9 p.m., Michelob ULTRA Arena, ESPN).

    The Sun scored only 26 points in the second half on Sunday and shot only 37.8% from the floor.

    “Yeah, we just weren’t knocking down shots,” Connecticut’s Natisha Hiedeman said Monday. “That’s pretty much the gist of it.

    “I mean, we held them to what their lowest points they scored all season. … So that’s a credit to our defense but we’ve got to score.”

    Las Vegas sat in a zone during the second half and packed the interior with bodies, daring the Sun to make outside shots.

    Connecticut’s trio of Alyssa Thomas and Brionna and Jonquel Jones combined to shoot 22 of 42 for 46 points.

    The rest of the Sun combined to shoot 6 of 32.

    That would be a shooting percentage of 18.8.

    Not good.

    “We were shooting shots and they weren’t going in,” Jonquel Jones said after Game 1. “But ultimately we were playing great defense, as well, and that's one of the things I talked about, finding the wins within the game. Yes, we weren't hitting the shots we know we can hit but we were also playing good ‘D.’ Ultimately, we'll be all right.”

    Wing DeWanna Bonner struggled the most for Connecticut as she missed 8 of 9 shots and scored only three points. She had been the Sun’s catalyst during their come-from-behind, five-game series win over the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky in the semifinals.

    Even the Joneses’ struggled in the second half. Jonquel Jones shot 3 for 8 for 7 points.

    Brionna Jones scored 10 in the first half on 5 for 7 shooting, helping Connecticut rally from an early 12-point deficit. She then missed 3 of 4 shots in the second half and scored two points.

    “Halfway through the third, I felt we were really still in a good position,” Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said. “In the second half of that third quarter, (Las Vegas) started to make some difficult shots and we could not find any kind of offensive rhythm, and missed some shots we were certainly capable of, forced some shots, and got stagnated by their defense.”

    The Sun struggled to get to the free throw line as well. They were second in the league with 19.9 attempts per game during the regular season, but attempted only five on Sunday.

    The Aces’ A’ja Wilson, this year’s WNBA MVP, made 12 of 14 free throws.

    “This (was) a three-point game and we had a chance to tie (at the end),” Thomas said after Game 1. “I think we are very confident and we know that all you need is one (road win) and then there’s two games at our place.

    “So, yeah, there’s some things we can clean up. Of course we can make more shots but overall we played a hard game.”

    n.griffen@theday.com

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