For the second time in just four years, the Sun made the finals and it came to an end without them lifting the championship trophy. This time they fell to the number one seed, the Las Vegas Aces 78-71 in game four of their best-of-five championship series on Sunday afternoon.
Playing in front of their home crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Sun kept it close but an 8-0 run in the final 1:39 by the Aces was the final nail in the coffin for a Sun team that has shown resilience and was hoping to force a fifth and final game.
Bahamian Jonquel Jones finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Defensively, she had two blocks and one steal. The Grand Bahama native went 5-for-8 from the field and made both of her three-point attempts. She played 29 minutes as she battled foul trouble with four personal fouls by the end of the third quarter. She was whistled for three fouls in that quarter alone.
The Sun was in the WNBA finals in 2019 and fell 3-2 to the Washington Mystics. It was also their fourth consecutive trip to the WNBA semifinals. Asked what it will take to get them over the hump, Jones said she was trying to process the loss.
“I wish I could answer that for you right now but all I know is it hurts me, and that’s all I’m feeling right now,” Jones said.
After going down 53-49 at the end of the third quarter, the Sun needed to bring out their resilience. The Sun went down 67-61 with 3:55 left. That were able to pull the game closer in less than one minute. That sequence saw DeWanner Bonner making three free throws then Jones pulling up and making a 10-footer to bring the game to 67-66 with Aces leading and 3:35 left in the game. Jones stole the ball on the next Aces offensive possession that set up Courtney Williams who got fouled and went to the free-throw line as the crowd was fired up. Williams split the pair of free-throws as the game was tied at 67 points. The Aces turned the ball over that set up Williams to make a jumpshot to give the Sun the 69-67 lead with 2:22 left in the game.
From there the Aces went on a 9-2 run to end the game and win the series.
Despite the loss, the 2021 Most Valuable Player (MVP) spoke about her team’s resolve to compete in night in and night out throughout the season.
“This team has heart,” Jones said. “This team has a lot of pride. This team, everybody has made sacrifices for us to be able to be back here. And like Courtney said, the chips didn’t fall the way we wanted them to. But there’s a lot of selflessness and a lot of sacrifices to be able to have this team back together and make this run.”
She added, “While it’s tough and it’s disappointing, we get to say that we were one of the last two teams standing and playing for a championship. So, I’ve got a lot of pride and a lot of joy with the moments that I’ve had with this team and have the ladies that have been ready to play with every night.”
The Sun’s forward Alyssa Thomas finished with her second consecutive triple double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. She also had two steals and two blocks. Scoring a team high 17 points for the Sun was Williams.
The finals MVP was the Aces’ Chelsea Gray who did it all and more with a game-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes. She got support from bench player Riquna Williams who had a breakout game with 17 points including five triples.
Jones led her team in these finals in scoring with 16 points per game that included shooting 56.5 percent from the field. She averaged 8.3 rebounds per game.
For her efforts in the regular season, Jones was able to earn All-WNBA second team and All-Defensive second team. The center finished seventh in the MVP voting.
Jones, 28, averaged 14.6 points per game on 51.3 percent shooting from the field this season. She also had 8.6 boards per game to go with 1.2 blocks per game and 1.1 steals per game.