By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE reigning WNBA MVP posted a double double en route to a home opening win for the Connecticut Sun.
Jonquel Jones finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the Sun to a 77-60 win over the Los Angeles Sparks Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Her Sun frontcourt mate Alyssa Thomas had 23 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and a steal.
“She was the MVP for a reason,” Thomas said. “We knew she was going to have a monster night. They really had nobody that could guard her. So it just speaks volumes to the type of player she is. And when she’s playing like that, we’re just a really dominant team.”
Jones got off to an early start with 10 points and six rebounds in the first quarter. The Sun led by as much as 24 in the first half and maintained that advantage through the second half. Jones was in foul trouble for much of the contest and fouled out with just over seven minutes left to play.
“They were terrific in the first half, both of them, and there was intent to play through them,” said Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller.
Jones opened the season with 15 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, two assists and two steals but the New York Liberty upset her Sun 81-79 on May 7 in the season opener for both teams.
The Sun looks to exact revenge on the Liberty and improve to 2-1 when the teams meet for the second time this season on May 17 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
A promising 2021 season saw the Sun franchise produce the MVP, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year, set franchise records in wins, winning percentage, and points allowed.
They finished the regular season 26-6 but the year ended in a disappointing fashion with a loss to the eventual champion Chicago Sky in the semifinals.
“We’ve been talking about championship or bust, last year was a bust because we didn’t get a championship,” Jones said during training camp. “This year is the year to finish things and we feel that and we know that.”
In addition to league MVP, she was also named to the All-WNBA First Team, All-Defensive First Team, the Associated Press Player of the Year and AP First-Team Honours.
She also won the WNBA Peak Performer Award as the league’s top rebounder for the third time in the last five seasons and was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the months of May, August and September.