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Jones Leads Suns To Victory With 27 Points

Jonquel Jones in action. (AP)

Jonquel Jones in action. (AP)

By RENALDO DORSETT

Tribune Sports Reporter

rdorsett@tribunemedia.net

For the second consecutive game, Bahamian WNBA star Jonquel Jones posted another season-high total.

Jones came off the bench and finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in her Connecticut Sun’s 96-76 over the Dallas Wings Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

It was also one of her more efficient shooting games of the season, 10-12 from the field (4-6 from three-point range) in 26 minutes.

The Sun improved to 19-13 with their seventh win in their last eight games and are one step closer to clinching a home playoff game.

“I think I just got a chance to see the rim a lot tonight. I think they were really focused on making sure they congested us a lot so it left me open for the three-point shot.

“I think that practice and that shot is paying off, it felt good,” Jones said to NBC Sports immediately following the game, “When I let it go, I felt it was going in every time so it was awesome.”

Defensively, Jones limited WNBA leading scorer Liz Cambage to just 15 points.

“The coaches are always in my ear talking about my length,” Jones said, “When I’m able to use my length, I think it makes it really difficult for opposing players to get their shots off or get good looks at the rim, so with that I just want to be active with my hands, tried to use my feet more and make it hard for her because she’s such a great player.”

The Sun completed a 3-0 season sweep of the Wings on the season.

“I think rebounding was a big thing,” she said, “I think the last time we played them at their place, they were able to come away with like 10 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter so it was an emphasis coming into this game just to be locked in and ready to protect the glass.”

Connecticut led by as much as 23 points at one point. The Sun led 22-18 after the first quarter and eased off to a 50-38 lead at the half as Jones and Rachel Banham combined for 16 second-quarter points. Dallas was still within 10 points, trailing 64-54 with 3:40 left in the third, when Jones hit a three-pointer to start an 11-2 run that made it 75-56 after three quarters.

The Sun are currently in the No.4 spot in the WNBA playoffstandings but have an identical record as the Los Angeles Sparks in the No.5 spot.

Connecticut has two games remaining in the regular season, including the finale against the Sparks on August 19, which could be a pivotal matchup for playoff seeding.

“We’re just understanding what each and every one of us brings to the table and just coming in and being ready to play every single time,” Jones said, “I think once we do that, we’re a really hard team to stop and we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”

Jones has averaged 17.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 62 percent shooting from the field and 53 percent shooting from three-point range.

Earlier in the week, Jones recorded her first double-double of the season as the Sun continued their playoff push.

Jones finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Sun’s 82-75 win over the Chicago Sky on August 12 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

After she posted just four points and four rebounds in the first half, Jones dominated the post with 13 points and 11 rebounds. At the end of the third quarter, Jones had a late scoring flurry with three field goals in just over a minute.

Since the 2016 season, the WNBA has implemented changes to playoff seeding and qualification procedures as well as the postseason format. Under the new postseason structure, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages regardless of conference qualify for the playoffs and are seeded based on their record.

Jones missed both the training camp and the preseason and was a late addition to the team after awaiting paperwork at home this offseason. She eventually reported to the Sun just one day before the regular season tipped off.

Prior to the season, Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said the combination of Jones – the league’s reigning Most Improved Player and Second Team All-WNBA selection – and Chiney Ogwumike – the 2014 Rookie of the Year – could take the Sun to the next level.

Alongside Ogwumike, Jones’ averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as a rookie. Last season, with Ogwumike sidelined with an injury, Jones developed into one the league’s rising stars.

She finished the year averaging 15.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, posted a record-setting total of 403 rebounds and also added 20 double doubles.

Jones’ historic season included several individual milestones, including becoming just the second player in league history to record three 20-rebound games in a single season.

Prior to the season, WNBA.com posed questions to the league’s general managers to learn what the people who make the decisions think on a variety of topics.

Jones was voted as the league’s top rebounder and received a whopping 58 percent on the poll ahead of Tina Charles at 25 percent.

The Sun finished the regular season with a record of 21-13, second in the Eastern Conference. They lost to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the playoffs.

The Sun was also projected to be successful in the WNBA Insider poll as the team likely to have the most wins in the Eastern Conference and tied for third in projections to win the WNBA Finals. They were also voted as the “Most Fun Team to Watch.”

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