Wings dominate shell-shocked Connecticut Sun in Game 2 of first round of WNBA playoffs; decisive game scheduled for Wednesday in Dallas – Hartford Courant

UNCASVILLE – The Connecticut Sun came into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Wings aiming for a fourth straight trip to the WNBA Semifinals.

But instead of ending the afternoon in celebration, the players left the pitch looking frustrated and discouraged. The third-seeded Sun were dominated by the sixth-seeded Wings 89-79 in Game 2 of a WNBA first-round playoff series at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It was a complete reversal of their blowout 25-point Game 1 victory a few days prior. The Wings led by no less than 31 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

It was the first playoff victory for the Dallas Wings franchise since 2009, when they were the Detroit Shock (they were also the Tulsa Shock since then, before moving to Dallas in 2016).

With the series tied 1-1, the Sun will now have to head on the road for a Game 3 playoff at Texas on Wednesday night.

Kayla Thorton led Dallas in scoring with 20 points, along with five rebounds and four assists. Allisha Gray had 15 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals, while Teaira McCowan added 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.

Jonquel Jones was Sun’s only starter to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Brionna Jones had 18 points and four rebounds off the bench, while DiJonai Carrington had 13 points and six rebounds.

Wings head coach Vickie Johnson changed her starting lineup in Game 1 of the series, choosing to start Isabelle Harrison (6-foot-3) at center instead of McCowan (6-7). It was the first game McCowan had come off the bench since July 12.

This decision to reduce the dividends paid. The combination of the Wings defense and a lot of missed rabbits and other self-inflicted errors completely threw the Sun’s offense off to start the afternoon. They missed their first six shots from the field as the Wings took a 7-0 lead, forcing head coach and general manager Curt Miller to call a timeout with 6:41 left. Connecticut’s first field goal came nearly four minutes into the first quarter, a 3-pointer from Courtney Williams.

Still, the Sun couldn’t get much from there, despite Miller making numerous substitutions. They trailed 22-7 at the end of the first quarter. It was their lowest scoring in a quarter all season, with the previous low of eight points in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 14.

Connecticut didn’t look like itself as it made 1 of 8 field attempts inside the paint and was passed by three in that opening frame. Thornton provided a huge spark for the Wings early on as she scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.

DeWanna Bonner made a 3-pointer to open the second quarter on a 9-3 Sun run that cut its deficit to nine points. But the Wings fought back to take control.

With just under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Gray snatched a rebound from Williams on the Wings’ offensive end. Isabelle Harrison missed the jump shot that followed, but Gray again rushed to grab the rebound and put it back in place for the score. The bucket put Dallas up 17 points for its biggest lead to that point. This would expand to 19 points soon after.

The Sun trailed 46-30 at halftime. They shot 34.5% from the field while allowing the Wings to shoot 51.4% and were outscored 20-12 in the paint in the first half.

Connecticut appeared to have some much-needed momentum after Jonquel Jones grabbed an offensive rebound and made a bucket-and-one, cutting the deficit to 50-37. But Dallas stormed back from there, going on an 8-0 run in just over a minute after Thornton made his fourth 3-pointer of the game to lead 58-37 with just over six minutes left. play in the third quarter.

The Wings continued to build their advantage from there and led 76-47 at the end of the third quarter.

Miller replaced rookie point guard Nia Clouden early in the fourth quarter, with Jonquel Jones as the only starter left on the floor. The game seemed out of reach at the time, with the rest of the front five on the bench in dismay at what had just unfolded.

With less than two minutes remaining, a 31-point deficit had been reduced to 11 points by the bench. But it wouldn’t come close.

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Raymond I. Langston