It was the tale of two halves but Jonquel Jones dropped game-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds as her Connecticut Sun fought off a comeback by the Washington Mystics to hold onto a 90-86 victory in game four of their best-of-five series at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Tuesday night. The series is tied at 2-2.
That win forced a winner-take-all game five tonight as the series takes a six-hour drive to the Entertainment Sun Arena in Washington, D.C.
Ironically, this was Jones’ second double-double of the series and the Sun’s second win of the series.
In addition to the double-double, Jones had three assists and one block in 37 minutes. She went 6-of-10 from the field to shoot 60 percent in the game. She was a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe.
That block came on a stifling low-post defense on Emma Meesseman in the first quarter with 2:48 left.
Alyssa Thomas grabbed the defensive rebound and created an open three-pointer for Natisha Hiedeman who nailed it in transition to put the Sun up 25-10 with 2:41 remaining in the first quarter.
The Sun took a 32-17 lead at the end of the first period. They shot a blistering 52.4 percent from the field to connect on 11-of-21. Four of those shots were made from beyond the three-point line. The Mystics went 6-of-20 from the field to shoot 30 percent.
Game four followed suit to the series pattern where the team that won the first quarter wins the game.
The Grand Bahamian had a lot of help as her Sun teammates stepped up big. Thomas flirted with a triple-double scoring 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds as she played the entire 40 minutes. Shekinna Stricklen, Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas finished with 15, 16 and 14 points respectively in the win.
The Mystics’ Ariel Powers dropped a team-high 15 points in the loss. Four other Mystics scored in double figures. Ariel Atkins scored 14 points and Natasha Cloud had 13 points. Meesseman had 12 points and the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Elena Delle Donne was limited to 11 points.
The second quarter saw the Mystics attempting to come back on the Sun. They cut the lead to 10 on an Atkins-made three-pointer with 4:47 remaining in the period. The Sun was up 44-34.
With a packed Mohegan Sun gym, the Sun fought off the Mystics in the second quarter as they went into the second half with a 56-40 lead.
The game looked like the Sun was going to run away with it.
However, the Mystics had other plans. They opened the third quarter on a 16-1 run as Toliver connected on a three-pointer with 5:29 remaining in the third period. The Sun still led 57-56.
Powers made a driving layup with a little over 30 seconds remaining in the third period as it was a tied ball game at 68-68. The Mystics dominated that quarter 28-12.
Both teams took 17 shots from the field, but the Mystics connected on 10 of them to shoot 58.8 percent, six more than the Sun who shot a modest 23.5 percent.
Tianna Hawkins stole the ball from Bria Holmes and made a layup with 9:44 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Mystics its first lead of the game since the first period when they led 3-2 with 9:40 remaining. The led 70-68.
The Mystics led by five before Alyssa Thomas connected on a three-pointer to give the Sun its first lead of the quarter, 84-81 with 3:09 remaining in the fourth quarter. On the next possession, Meesseman answered with a three of her own to tie it up at 84.84.
Stricklen hit the go-ahead bucket, a three-pointer that ignited the crowd as they went up 87-86.
The Mystics tried to stage a comeback in the waning moments of the game but to no avail.
On their final possession, Jones came up big playing lockdown defense on Meesseman in the low-post to disturb her shot and grabbed the rebound with four seconds remaining in the game. Jones held on to the ball as time expired and her Sun won 90-86 to force a game five.
Although the Sun shot 42.9 percent from the field, lower than the Mystics’ 47.1 percent, they dug deep and drew more fouls to get to the free throw line 13 more times than the Mystics, 26-13.
They also controlled the glass to outrebound their opponents 39-29 including pulling down eight offensive rebounds.
In her seven playoff games, the former George Washington University workaholic is averaging a double-double. She has 16.9 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.
In this series, she is averaging 17.6 points per game and 11.5 rebounds a contest. Overall, she is averaging 33.5 minutes per game.
Jones is the first Bahamian to play in the WNBA finals and if she wins will be the first Bahamian woman to win a WNBA Championship. She is playing this series on the backdrop of the destruction of Hurricane Dorian that hit close to her, on her island of Grand Bahama early last month.
Game five will be live on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism