Make that 12 straight wins for Bahamian professional basketball player Jonquel “JJ” Jones and the streaking Connecticut Sun (24-6). They clinched the top seed in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) playoffs on Saturday, recording a 76-67 road win over the Phoenix Mercury (19-11).
The statement win snapped the Mercury’s 10-game winning streak, and extended the Sun’s streak to 12. It was the first time since 2016, the same year that Jones was drafted, that two teams with double-digit consecutive winning streaks faced each other.
Jones finished with 12 points and a game-high 16 boards, and it was enough to help her team secure home-court advantage throughout the WNBA playoffs. Jones took the most shots for her team with 18 shot attempts but only converted on five of them, shooting 27.8 percent from the field. She made two three-pointers of the night. Jones played all but three minutes of the game and finished with two assists and one block. A total of 13 of her 16 boards were on the defensive glass.
Clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs was huge for the Sun as they have a 13-1 win/loss record at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. They are aiming to reach the WNBA Finals for the second time in three years – missing out on the championship by one game in 2019.
The 12 straight wins for the Sun tie a franchise record that was done back in 2006. They have two games remaining on their regular season schedule – both at home. In those two games, they face a couple of the weaker teams in the league in that of the New York Liberty (11-19) and the already eliminated Atlanta Dream (7-22).
Playing on the road in front of 9,811 fans at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, the Sun was successful in ending their four-game road trip with a perfect 4-0 record. They finished 11-5 on the road this season.
The Sun nearly blew an 11-point second-half lead, as the Mercury cut it down to two, 59-57, early in the fourth quarter. Brittney Griner made a short hook shot for the Mercury to pull them to within two. From there, the Sun went on an 11-4 scoring run and never looked back. Grand Bahamian Jones made a cutting layup for her final two points of the night to extend her team’s lead to 70-61 with 2:28 remaining in the game.
Jasmine Thomas led the Sun with 17 points. Griner finished with a game-high 25 points and a team-high 12 boards to go with three blocks in the loss.
Jones was huge for her team in the rebounding department in the first quarter as she finished with six rebounds in that opening period. She had a rough start shooting as she missed her first two shots before finally getting on the scoreboard at the 4:32 mark. She was able to give her team a 12-11 lead at that point.
Riding a 9-0 run to end the quarter, the Sun took a 23-18 lead heading into the second quarter.
A the 8:22 mark of the second quarter, the former George Washington University standout made a three-point shot to give her team a 31-23 lead. The biggest lead of the game, 11 points, was held by the Sun who did it at the 7:48 mark of the second quarter, going ahead 34-23, and then stretched the lead to double digits in the second half. The Mercury cut into that lead, sending the game into half-time with the Sun up 49-43.
The Mercury did not capitalize on the Sun’s horrible 17.6 percent shooting from the field in the third quarter. They were only able to make five shots in that quarter compared to the Sun’s three.
In the end, the Sun was able to knock down 10 treys compared to the Mercury’s five. Jones and her team were locked in at the free-throw line making 18 of their 19 attempts while the Mercury went 8-for-9 from the charity stripe.
The Sun only committed nine turnovers and forced the Mercury to turn the ball over 15 times.
Jones, a frontrunner for the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, leads the league in rebounds at 11.2 per contest and is fourth in the league in scoring with an average of 19.9 points per game.
Jones and the Sun will have a couple days’ rest before hosting the Liberty on Wednesday at 7 p.m.