Alyssa Thomas (16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists) recorded the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history and Connecticut finally found a way too cool off red-hot Las Vegas guard Chelsea Gray as the Sun won 105-76 at home Thursday night to force a Game 4.
But before Connecticut won its fourth elimination game of the 2022 postseason, there were scoring runs — a whole lot of them.
After Vegas jumped out to a 9-2 lead, Connecticut reeled off a 25-4 run to end the first quarter, building as much as a 23-point lead in the first half. The Sun weathered an Aces run right before the break that cut the lead to nine, then scored three quick baskets to open the fourth quarter and close out the win. With the Sun firmly in control with less than five minutes to play, Aces coach Becky Hammon pulled her starters. Game 4 will tip Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. Both franchises are seeking their first WNBA title.
WNBA playoffs 2022: How Sun and Aces got here
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But the storyline of Thursday night is what might be the adjustment of the series, as Sun coach Curt Miller tapped 6-foot-4 Sun guard DeWanna Bonner, who has an impressive wingspan, to guard Gray, who torched the Sun in Games 1 and 2.
Gray finished with 11 points and seven assists, but she did not score in the second half and only attempted seven shots all night. (Nine of Gray’s points came on three consecutive 3s she hit when Bonner was on the bench.)
Bonner’s length bothered Gray whenever they were matched up. She blanketed Gray, who was shooting a blistering 60.5% from the field in eight playoff games, averaging 23.3 points and 7.1 assists.
Perhaps even more importantly though, the veteran finally showed up offensively, too.
After scoring just a combined five points in Games 1 and 2, Bonner totaled 18 points, to go with six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
A’ja Wilson scored 19 and was virtually unstoppable no matter how many defenders Connecticut sent at her, but Connecticut dominated the paint, outscoring the Aces 64-26. Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP, had 20 points.
Connecticut’s bench also outscored Vegas 26-5. The Sun set a playoff record with 19 assists in the first half, and finished with 32 on 43 made baskets.
Jackie Young led the Aces with 22 and Kelsey Plum chipped in 17.
All-WNBA Teams revealed
Wilson, the 2022 MVP, along with Las Vegas guard Plum, Seattle forward Breanna Stewart, Chicago forward Candace Parker and Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith were named to the All-WNBA First Team on Thursday, each earning a $10,300 bonus. Connecticut’s Thomas and Jones, along with New York guard Sabrina Ionesco, Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike and Minnesota center Sylvia Fowels made up the Second Team, each earning a $5,150 bonus. Wilson and Stewart were both unanimous selections.