After producing a lethargic 12 points and six rebounds in game one, Bahamian and Connecticut Sun center Jonquel “JJ” Jones put on an historic night when she scored 32 points and pulled down 18 rebounds, half on the offensive side, in a 99-87 game two victory over the Washington Mystics to even their WNBA Finals series at 1-1.
That game was on the Mystics’ home court, the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night.
Jones put on a cape and put her team on her back to become the only WNBA player in WNBA Finals history to be in the 30+ points and 15+ boards club. As if that was not historic enough, her nine offensive boards were the most in a WNBA finals game. The Grand Bahama native also set a record for the most rebounds at halftime with 10.
After only attempting eight total shots in game one, the center took 24 shots and connected on 13 of them. She also had three blocked shots.
After the game Jones told Holly Rowe of ESPN; “I just had to be aggressive tonight. I think that is one of the best ways that I can impact the game and tonight I wanted to do that.”
On her offensive rebounds record, she said; “Just trying to go hard. Getting myself in positions early and just fight really hard honestly.”
She was in foul trouble for most of the second half but still managed to play 34 minutes.
Courtney Williams, Sun guard, had 22 points, six assists and knocked down three three-pointers in 36 minutes. Alyssa Thomas who played all 40 minutes, shot 60 percent from the field to score 21 points and hauled in 12 rebounds in the win.
Emma Meesseman, Mystics center, who filled in for the league’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) Elena Delle Donne, finished with a team-high 23 points in the loss. Delle Donne left the game with 6:32 remaining in the first quarter with back spasms.
The Sun took advantage of Delle Donne’s absence to steal one from the Mystics.
“She is such a big part of what they do. Obviously, you never want to wish injury on anybody but we understood that it was also a time for us to really steal one here. We did that tonight,” Jones told Rowe about Delle Donne.
When Delle Donne exited the game, the Mystics held the lead at 7-6. Jones’ three-pointer with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter gave her team an 18-11 lead. That capped off a 12-4 run by the Sun.
At the end of the first quarter, the Sun held a convincing 29-17 lead. Jones had seven points and four rebounds – one offensive and three defensive.
It was a tough game, as the Mystics came out fighting as they rallied their way back to bring the game to a Sun 34-31 lead on a Tianna Hawkings three-pointer.
On the next possession, Jones made a layup on a William’s assist to take their scoreboard to 36-31. That was the Grand Bahamian’s 12th point of the night.
The game went back and forth for the remainder of the second quarter as the Sun fought off a tenacious Mystic team who did not have their leader.
After Thomas missed a driving layup, the former George Washington University standout pulled down offensive rebound number four for a total of 10 rebounds in the first half. She went back for the layup and scored her 18th point of the first half to put her team up 54-44 with 31 seconds remaining in the first half.
At the half, the Sun was up 56-46, looking to lock up the second half of the game. However, the Mystics won the second quarter 29-27.
The game was tied up at 76-76 after Kristi Toliver made a floating bank shot with 8:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jones came in after that play after leaving the game with four fouls with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
She came in the game and had an immediate impact grabbing an offensive rebound for a putback to put her team back up 78-76 with 7:46 remaining in the game.
Jones spoke about her time on the bench and knowing what she needed to do when she came back in. She said; “Getting on the offensive boards again. Also keeping our heads down and understand that it is going to be a fight. Both teams are here for a reason and we understand it is going to be a fight.”
The Mystics came close to the Sun but never got past them. The Grand Bahamian decided to put the “icing on the cake” when she connected on a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to seal the game and her 32nd point of the night.
That shot gave her team a 99-87 victory. She spoke about how her team feeds off of each other’s success.
“It lifts us up a lot. Obviously, we are a team that live off of other people’s success and tonight it was me and obviously I can carry this on for the rest of the series,” Jones said.
The Sun was a menace on the offensive glass as they outworked the Mystics 17-6. Overall, they out rebounded the Mystics 41-27.
After the Mystics shot 54 percent in game one, the Sun played some stiff defense in game two to hold them to just 47.2 percent.
The Mystics will be looking to avoid dropping two straight final series after falling 3-0 to the Seattle Storm last season.
Game three swings to the Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, set for Sunday, October 6 at 3:30 p.m. live on ESPN.
According to Mike Thibault, head coach of the Mystics, Delle Donne underwent an MRI yesterday.
Jones’ 32 points was the most points scored in a WNBA finals game since Atlanta Dreams Angel McCoughtry scored 38 points and Minnesota Lynx Seimone Augustus scored 36 in 2011.