Joe Paige | Sports Editor
After defeating the 6th seeded Minnesota Lynx in an elimination game on Wednesday night, the Connecticut Sun will advance to the semi-finals, going head-to-head with former Sun Jonquel Jones and the new look New York Liberty.
In game 2, the Lynx had to respond after Connecticut managed to score 42 points off turnovers and second chance points combined, and so they did just that. Minnesota would respond with much improved defense as well as two playoff career highs with Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride combining for 54 points. As a result of the resurgent win, this became the only series in the playoffs that would actually reach 3 games. They would hope to carry this momentum into a win-or-go-home game 3 back at their home court Target Center.
Connecticut got into a rhythm and took control quickly to start the game. Opening the first half shooting 58% from the field and 50% from behind the arc, Alyssa Thomas stayed busy getting her teammates involved dishing 6 assists. Thomas and DeWanna Bonner combined were responsible for scoring or assisting on 40 of Connecticut's 49 points at the half. Even when Minnesota would get more physical and try to push back, the Sun held their ground and didn’t let Minnesota take the lead for the entire first half.
In the second half, Minnesota just simply didn’t seem to have enough firepower to match Connecticut’s scoring output. All-Star Napheesa Collier has been doing everything that she could to keep the Lynx afloat, she’d have 19 points serving as their engine offensively. But every time they tried to penetrate the paint, the Sun would have an answer defensively.
Connecticut would go on to build a 15-point lead in the 4th quarter and put this game away. Napheesa Collier finished the game as the only player to score more than 13 points for Minnesota. DeWanna Bonner ended the night with 25 points, 6 assists, and 10 rebounds. History was also made that night, Bonner now joins WNBA legends Tamika Catchings and Candice Parker as the only players in WNBA history with 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Thomas also made history, as she scored or assisted on 58 points, which is the most in a playoff game all-time. She also tied WNBA legend Lisa Leslie with 18 career double-doubles in playoff history.
Now, The Sun prepares to face a stacked New York Liberty squad, who just came off of sweeping the 7th seeded Washington Mystics in the first round. This is Connecticut’s fifth straight semi-finals appearance, this will be New York’s first semi-finals appearance in eight years. Although the Sun may have an advantage in playoff experience, New York has had Connecticut’s number as they swept them in the regular season. All-Star Brianna Stewart has been in a tight race with Alyssa Thomas for MVP honors, and Sabrina Ionescu continues to shatter records and amaze fans with her unreal performances.
But easily, their biggest concern ought to be their former teammate, Jonquel Jones. Jones left Connecticut just last year, which was quite a shock considering she had just come off of an MVP season and would go all the way to face Las Vegas in the finals. Jones is one of, if not the, best centers in the game. Connecticut unfortunately has been without the services of Brionna Jones, their only other center on their roster, who missed the whole season after suffering a leg injury three months ago and had to undergo right Achilles tendon surgery. New York will have home court advantage in this i95 series as they are a higher seed than Connecticut, which means the Sun will get one chance to close the series at home in Uncasville. Game 1 begins on Sunday at 1pm ET.