Sun Secure Fourth Seed With Win Over Sparks

Uncasville — The Connecticut Sun locked up the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the WNBA Playoffs Sunday, holding off the Los Angeles Sparks 89-86 before a crowd of 8,040 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Sun will open the playoffs Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against the highest remaining seed from first-round games on Tuesday involving the Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx and Dallas Wings.

Should the Sun win Thursday, they would advance to the semifinals, a best-of-five series with the top-seeded Seattle Storm that would begin on Sunday, August 26.

Veteran point guard Jasmine Thomas had a game-high 27 points with five assists and five rebounds to lead the Sun (21-13). She was 4 of 5 from three-point range and 7 of 7 from the free throw line, including three in the last four seconds to ice the win.

Jonquel Jones (17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) continued her torrid play, making two more three-pointers while stepping up on defense.

Courtney Williams (13 points, four rebounds, three assists), Shekinna Stricklen (10 points with two made threes and four rebounds) and Morgan Tuck (10 points, two made threes) also made crucial contributions.

The Sun were 11 of 20 from three-point range and 32 of 63 (50.8 percent) overall from the field while also hitting on 14 of 16 free throws.

They needed every point because Los Angeles, which has been to the last three finals with a WNBA Championship in 2016, staged one rally after another.

The Sun led by as many as eight points in the first quarter, had an 18-point lead at one point in the second quarter, and were up by 19 twice in the third quarter.

In each instance, the Sparks (19-15) responded.

After Stricklen put the Sun ahead 65-46 with just under five minutes remaining, the Sparks responded with a 17-4 to pull within 69-63 at the end of the third quarter.

It was 69-65 early in the fourth quarter when Williams and Tuck combined for eight points to push the Sun lead back to 77-67.

It was still a 10-point lead (82-72) when Los Angeles made its last run, getting within 86-84 when Candace Parker (20 points, 10 rebounds) hit a long three-pointer with 5.1 seconds left.

Thomas stepped up to make two free throws after the intentional foul, but Riquna Williams was fouled on a three-point attempt and made two of three. Thomas hit her last free throw attempt to ice the game.

Jantel Lavender (17 points), Essence Carson (14 points), Chelsea Gray (12 points, seven assists) and Odyssey Sims (11 points) paced the Sparks.