Thursday, October 7, 2021
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
A season of accolades came to an abrupt and disappointing end for reigning MVP Jonquel Jones and the Connecticut Sun.
The Sun were eliminated 3-1 in the WNBA semifinals with a 79-69 loss in game four of the best-of-five series last night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
Jones finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs. She also added two steals, two blocked shots, two assists, shot 10-18 from the field and 2-4 from the three-point line.
“She wanted the ball, she hunted for shots. We asked her to, and she maybe forced at times, but it was great to see an aggressive Jonquel wanting the ball and being active on the glass,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said, “And she’s not done growing.”
In last night’s series finale, the Sun got off to another slow start and trailed by double digits early on when a Candace Parker three pointer gave the Sky a 13-2 lead just 2:46 into the game.
The Suns responded with a run of their own and eventually trimmed the deficit to just three on an Alyssa Thomas layup to make the score 22-19. Jones’ layup just beat the first quarter buzzer and the Sky led 32-26 at the end of the first period.
The Sun were held to 15 points in the second quarter as the Sky rebuilt a double digit lead headed into the half, 54-41. Connecticut won their only quarter of the game in the third, 17-11, to trail 65-58 headed into the fourth.
A low scoring fourth quarter for both teams, the Sun scored a game low 11 points and were unable to mount a comeback effort to extend their season.
Through four games in the 2021 postseason, Jones averaged 16.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game. In game one, she led the Sun with 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 101-95 double overtime loss.
In game two, she finished with a season low four points, seven rebounds and four assists in the Sun’s 79-68 win. Game three featured another double double - 10 points, 10 rebounds and also added a game high four blocks, but her Sun lost game three, 86-83.
Miller said his team was out coached and was outplayed over the course of the series, headed into the postseason with a 14 game win streak and a No.1 overall seed.
“We’re disappointed. We have a ton of players in that locker room under contract. It took a long time to put our roster together, but I’m excited about this group, and what it could eventually do,” Miller said, “It feels like we were always on our heels this series and it caught up with us….It’s just an empty feeling right now, that we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing over these last eight days.”
The Sun had a historic finish to the 2021 WNBA regular season with a 14 game winning streak.
Their 26-6 record included a 15-1 record at home in the Mohegan Sun and earned a double bye to the semifinals.
Since the WNBA changed its playoff format in 2016, this is the first season the No. 1 seed has failed to reach the championship round.