WNBA: Sun down Mercury for 12th straight win, No. 1 seed

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Sep 12 2021 03:48 PM

The Connecticut Sun huddle up after the game against the New York Liberty on June 5, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. File photo. Chris Marion, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.
The Connecticut Sun huddle up after the game against the New York Liberty on June 5, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. File photo. Chris Marion, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.

Jasmine Thomas scored 17 points and Jonquel Jones had a double-double as the visiting Connecticut Sun clinched the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs with a 76-67 victory against the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night.

Jones had 12 points and 16 rebounds, DeWanna Bonner scored 16 points and Brionna Jones scored 10 as the Sun (24-6) won their league-best 12th straight game. The Sun took a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Las Vegas, against which it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Brittney Griner, returning from a one-game absence for a personal reason, had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Shey Peddy scored 12, Skylar Diggins-Smith had 11 and Brianna Turner had 10 to lead the Mercury (19-11).

Phoenix played without Diana Taurasi, who is sidelined by an ankle injury, and got just five points from its bench as it saw its franchise-best 10-game winning streak end.

Thomas started the third-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer that pushed Connecticut's lead to nine points.

Kia Nurse made a 3-pointer and shortly thereafter added a free throw that pulled Phoenix even at 55.

Jonquel Jones made a layup and Bonner added two free throws to give the Sun a 59-55 lead at the end of the period.

Bonner's two free throws increased the lead to 64-57 and the Mercury didn't get any closer than five points the rest of the way.

The Mercury led by four points four times during the first quarter, but Thomas scored five points during a 9-0 run that gave the Sun a 23-18 lead at the end of the period.

Natisha Hiedeman scored Connecticut's first five points of the second quarter and Bonner's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 34-23.

The Sun led by 11 points four more times in the quarter before Diggins-Smith made two free throws to cut Connecticut's lead to 49-43 at halftime.

-- Wings rally past Liberty to clinch playoff spot --

Satou Sabally hit the go-ahead 3-pointer and Allisha Gray blocked a potential game-winning shot with 1 second left as the Dallas Wings rallied for a 77-76 victory over the visiting New York Liberty on Saturday night.

The Wings (13-17) clinched a trip to the postseason by rallying from a 13-point deficit. Dallas outscored New York 20-6 over the final 9:19.

New York's Michaela Onyenwere hit a jumper to give the Liberty a 70-57 lead, but Dallas scored the next 13 points to tie the game on a layup by Kayla Thornton with 5:01 remaining. New York held its last lead when Sabrina Ionsecu hit free throws with 2:17 remaining.

On the next possession, Sabally knocked down a 3-pointer for a 75-74 lead. Sabally added a layup for a 77-74 lead with 38 seconds left and New York was within 77-76 on a layup by Natasha Howard with 29.4 seconds to go.

After Arike Ogunbowale missed a 3-point try with 8.7 seconds left, Howard got the rebound and New York called a timeout. The ball found its way to Ionescu, whose floater in the lane was blocked by Gray just in front of the foul line.

Reserve Marina Mabrey paced the Wings with 21 points. Gray, Thornton, Ogunbowale and Sabally contributed 13 apiece as Dallas survived shooting 36.1 percent.

Betnijah Laney scored 19 points as the Liberty (11-19) lost their seventh straight game and dropped a game behind the Washington Mystics for the final playoff spot. Ionescu added 18 points and Howard finished with 16 as New York shot 44.8 percent and missed 17 of 24 3-point tries.