Uncasville – The Connecticut Sun will host a playoff game for the first time since 2012.
The Sun (19-10) earned that home game by routing the Phoenix Mercury 94-66 at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday afternoon. The second win in two meetings against the Mercury (15-14) also gave Connecticut the season series.
“Huge,” coach Curt Miller said when asked what it meant to have at least one home game guaranteed in the WNBA playoffs, where the first two rounds are single-elimination games. “I am so happy for the organization. But with this new format, just because you get in the playoffs doesn’t mean you automatically get to play in front of your home crowd. You can be one-and-done in that seven-eight spot on the road and the excitement of making the playoffs, you don’t even get to enjoy it with your home fans. So tonight, clinching no worse than a top six finish (was huge)…I’m excited for our fans. They’ve been patient. They’ve lived through a little bit of a playoff drought. So now, not only are we going to make the playoffs, but we are guaranteed at least a home playoff game. It’s going to be big.”
Five different Sun players reached double figures, led by Jonquel Jones (20 points, eight rebounds) and Alyssa Thomas (17 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals), who recorded her fourth double-double of the season.
Courtney Williams had 16 points and four rebounds with two assists, Jasmine Thomas had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists and Shekinna Stricklen made four three-pointers on the way to 12 points. Alex Bentley came off the bench to score eight points.
The Sun trailed 10-2 early on, but settled down and took a 46-45 lead into halftime.
The game turned in the third quarter as Connecticut exploded to start the second half, opening a 65-49 lead with a 19-4 run over the first 5:32 of the third quarter. Alyssa Thomas had nine points in that run while Jasmine Thomas had a pair of steals and two three-pointers. Courtney Williams also had two steals and a pair of jump shots.
The Sun led by as much as 72-65 in the third quarter, and Phoenix never got closer than 13 the rest of the day. Connecticut iced the game with a 17-0 run that began with 6:36 left in the game. By the time Brionna Jones made one of two free throws with 1:54 left, the Sun led 94-64.
Connecticut is home again Wednesday when it faces the Dallas Wings at 7 p.m. Get tickets.