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Jones, Sun split a pair over the weekend

Bahamian Jonquel “JJ” Jones continued her impressive play so far this season, and the Connecticut Sun split a pair of games over the weekend to maintain its footing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

The Sun lost its first game of the season on Friday night, falling to former team member Chiney Ogwumike and the Los Angeles Sparks, 77-70, in Los Angeles, California. Ogwumike, a former number one overall draft selection of the Sun, was traded to the Sparks in the offseason. She destroyed her old team on Friday night, going 7-for-11 from the field and scoring a game-high 20 points.

Playing side-by-side for just the second time in their professional careers, and for the first time as starters together, were the Ogwumike sisters. Older sister Nneka added 19 points and 15 rebounds, including a clutch three-point shot late in the game which basically put Jones and the Sun away.

As for Jones, she was fantastic again, notching her second double-double of the season including matching a career-high with 22 rebounds – just two short of the WNBA single-game record. She had a side-high 16 points for the Sun. Jones came back on Sunday and had another huge double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, in leading the Sun in a huge comeback win against the Las Vegas Aces, 80-74.

The Sun now has a 3-1 win-loss record on the season, and trail just the undefeated Minnesota Lynx (3-0) in the league standings. They are number one in the east.

Jones has notched a double-double in three of the Sun’s four games this season, is averaging a double-double for the season and is the Sun’s leading scorer and rebounder through four games. She is on pace to surpass the 403 total rebounds and 280 defensive rebounds she had during the 2017 season – both WNBA records.

Jones is the only player in WNBA history to surpass 400 rebounds in a season.

On Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the first game of their mini two-game road trip, the Sun got as close as one point in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

After trailing by nine early in the quarter, the Sun got to within one, 63-62, on a huge three-point shot from Jones with 4:33 remaining in the game. However, the Sparks (1-1) responded with a three-point shot from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. The Sun got to within two points on two more occasions, including at 69-67 when a three-point play from Jones gave her team life with 1:41 remaining. However, Chiney Ogwumike answered with her own three-point play, and Nneka Ogwumike’s three-point shot with just 40.8 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Sparks. It was their first win of the season and the Sun’s first loss.

Jones shot 6-for-15 from the floor and was 2-for-4 from distance. Behind her side-high 16, Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas added 14 apiece for the Sun.

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Derek Fisher, who won five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, got his first WNBA win as a head coach of the Sparks.

Two nights after that loss, the Sun was back at it, playing the Las Vegas Aces at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jones shot just 5-for-14 from the floor, and was 0-for-6 from distance. She still managed to finish with a double-double, 16 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Sun past the Aces, 80-74.

The Sun’s defense was swarming all night, forcing a whopping 21 turnovers against the aces – at least 10 more than against any other team this season. They have now won 12 of the last 13 meetings with the Aces.

Williams led the Sun with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jones had 16 and Shekinna Stricklen added 15.

A’ja Wilson paced the Aces with 19 points and nine rebounds. Liz Cambage came off the bench to score 14, and Kayla McBride contributed 13.

Jasmine buried a huge three-point shot and Jones followed with a driving lay-up to give the Sun an 80-72 lead with just 1:07 left on the clock. The Aces could only manage a lay-up from Dearica Hamby the rest of the way.

The Aces led by double digits in the second quarter, but the Sun kept chipping away at the lead, and completed the comeback in the fourth quarter.

Jones has started each game for the Sun this season at center. She is averaging 16.75 points and 14.25 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.28 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point land.

The Sun return home to host the Sparks at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Thursday.

Sports Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting
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