By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
FACED with their fifth game in 11 days, Jonquel Jones and the Connecticut Sun were unable to keep pace in their home finale as the WNBA playoff race closes out the regular season.
The Sun suffered a 96-83 loss to the Chicago Sky Friday night in their last home game for the regular season at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Jones finished with six points and 11 rebounds but shot an uncharacteristic 0-6 from the field in 19 minutes.
The Sun had previously won eight of its last nine games headed into the contest.
“I felt it (Friday),” Jones said of the fatigue factor to the Norwich Bulletin. “I don’t know. I think we just have to get back on it.”
The Sun has three games remaining – all on the road, as they look to solidify one of the top four playoff spots in the league. They face a rescheduled game with the Washington Mystics on August 29, the Phoenix Mercury on September 1 and close out the regular season against the Los Angeles Sparks on September 3.
With a win over the Mystics, the Sun, currently 20-11, will be assured of at least the fourth seed in the WNBA playoffs. They would receive a first-round bye and a week between the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
“Our last three games are certainly not going to be easy and when the game was (postponed) and delayed until now, we knew it would be a tough way to end the season with three road games against three talented teams. We have to steal a win or two to stay in the top four,” Miller said.
The Sun clinched the playoffs with an August 12 win over the Dallas Wings, their first postseason appearance since 2012.
The Sun franchise began as the Orlando Miracle in 1999 and made the postseason just once in its four-year tenure in Florida. They relocated to Connecticut in 2003. They advanced to the WNBA Finals in 2004-05 and the Conference Finals in 2003, 2006, and 2012. Sine their last postseason appearance they finished sixth or fifth in the conference for the past four years.
Jones pushed her averages to 15.9 points, a league leading 11.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game. She averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds as a rookie last season. She received one vote in the 2016 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year tally to finish in a 5-way tie for fifth behind winner Jantel Lavender.
The Sun finished last season 14-20, 5th in Eastern Conference, just missing the postseason after a dramatic midseason turnaround.