UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Alyssa Thomas had the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history, and the Connecticut Sun saved it by beating the Las Vegas Aces 105-76 in Game 3 on Thursday night.
Thomas had 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists for the Sun, who have now won all four elimination games in those playoffs, defeated Dallas in the first round, and beat Chicago in Games 4 and 5 to end that streak.
Game 4 of this best-of-five series takes place in Connecticut on Sunday.
“We fought offensively and finally got back to playing at home and my teammates took shots,” said Thomas. “Without her none of this would be possible.”
Las Vegas got off to a quick start, scoring nine of the first 11 points and forcing Connecticut to ask for a timeout. That calmed the Sun down and they took over, beating Aces 32-10 for the rest of the quarter, including 25 of the last 29 points. Connecticut threw 14 of his 17 shots in that span, and DeWanna Bonner was a big reason.
She struggled in the first two games of the series, scoring five points overall and missing 16 of her 18 shots. She had seven points in the first 8 minutes on Thursday night and finished with 18.
“She was huge. She’s been here before. She won. So we lean on them,” Thomas said. “And she fought offensively, but we had nothing but faith in her and she went out and did her thing tonight.”
Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 20 points.
Jones, Bonner and Thomas helped Connecticut dominate from the inside, while the Sun set a finals record with 64 points, keeping Las Vegas with 26.
“It’s a very resilient team. If you could encapsulate Connecticut, it’s physical and very tough,” said Aces coach Becky Hammon. “They are physical and resilient and we didn’t get that in any category tonight.”
Connecticut capitalized on that advantage to lead 53-34 in the second quarter with 1:44 to go before the aces ended the period with the last nine points, including a 3-pointer from Kelsey Plum that hit the buzzer straight into the hemifield.
The Sun regained momentum to start the third quarter and scored the first five points. Las Vegas couldn’t get any closer than six for the rest of the game.
“Simply put, our defense couldn’t stop them tonight,” Hammon said.
Jackie Young scored 22 points and A’ja Wilson added 19 for the aces.
The victory thwarted Las Vegas’ first attempt to win the franchise’s first WNBA championship. The team has been in the final twice before, being swept in 2008 and 2020.
Thomas now has two triple-doubles under his belt – both this season. This was the third in WNBA playoff history. Courtney Vandersloot of Chicago and Sheryl Swoopes of Houston took the others.
Former Aces president and coach Bill Laimbeer stood aside. He took over the franchise when he moved to Las Vegas in 2018, before retiring at the end of last season. Laimbeer was instrumental in assembling the championship roster, calling up Wilson for the first time in 2018 and prompting Gray to join the team as a free agent last season. … Aces owner Mark Davis sat on the baseline. …If the Aces had managed to complete the comeback, they would have broken the mark for the biggest rally in WNBA Finals history. New York Liberty came back from an 18 win against Houston in 1999 when Teresa Weatherspoon landed a winning midfield shot. Hammon played for Liberty in that game.
Wilson and Seattle’s Breanna Stewart were the unanimous pick for the All-WNBA First Team, announced Thursday. Plum was also part of the first team, along with Skylar Diggins-Smith of Phoenix and Candace Parker of Chicago. Thomas and Jones were part of the second team along with Sabrina Ionescu from New York, Nneka Ogwumike from Los Angeles and Sylvia Fowles from Minnesota.
Source : localtoday.news