Sports

Jones, Sun clinch playoff spot in the WNBA

It’s been a sporadic season for Bahamian professional women’s basketball player Jonquel Jones and the Connecticut Sun.

They extended their winning streak to three on Sunday, after dropping two straight which came on the heels of a seven-game winning streak. Earlier this season, the Sun won seven in a row and 10 of 11, and then dropped five straight to fall out of first place in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) standings.

On Sunday, behind another double-double from Jones, her league-leading 14th of the season, the Sun rolled to a 78-68 home win over the Dallas Wings. They now have a 19-8 win-loss record on the season, and have clinched a playoff spot, along with the league-leading Washington Mystics (20-7).

Jones was dominant on Sunday, powering in 16 points and adding 10 rebounds. She is now averaging 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game – 10th in the league in scoring, and leading the way in rebounds. She also leads the league in blocks at 2.1 per game and is second in fantasy points per game at 37.8. Natasha Howard of the Seattle Storm leads the way at 40.7.

Jones is the only player in the league averaging a double-double, and her season high of 22 rebounds earlier in the year against the Los Angeles Sparks is a league high for rebounds in a single game this year. Her season high in points is 27.

Jones is averaging a career-high in minutes at 29.6 per game but is having the worst shooting performance of her four-year career at just 44.2 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from distance. This is the only year in her career in which Jones is shooting less than 50 percent from the floor. She is set to lead the league in rebounds for the second time in her career, having set a WNBA record with 403 total rebounds in 2017.

With their two home wins over the weekend, the Sun have secured a playoff spot. They outlasted the Storm on Friday, 79-78, and then rolled over the Wings on Sunday.

Courtney Williams led the way for the Sun on Sunday with 18 points and six rebounds. Jones and Jasmine Thomas had 16 apiece. Thomas added nine assists. Jones was 5-for-10 from the floor including 2-for-3 from distance. Allisha Gray had a game-high 22 points, tying her career best, and added five rebounds and three steals for the Wings. Arike Ogunbowale added 20 points. Isabelle Harrison was their only other player in double figures with 11, and she added 13 rebounds and four assists. Her 13 rebounds matched a career high.

After the Sun opened up a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Wings stormed back in the second. They pulled even at 32 before Shekinna Stricklen converted a three-point play for the Sun and they never looked back. Gray’s lay-up with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter cut the Wings’ deficit to six points, but Thomas answered with a three-point play to spark a 9-0 run that pushed the Sun’s lead to 78-63 with 1:47 to go.

The Sun will continue their homestand at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, when they host the Las Vegas Aces on Friday. Last Sunday, they suffered an 89-81 loss to the Aces at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Sheldon Longley

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.

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