Jonquel Jones and the Connecticut Sun made an early-season statement on Tuesday night with an 83-75 win over the Washington Mystics in a battle of the top two teams in the WNBA.
There was plenty of excitement heading into this matchup, which featured the teams with the two best records and two longest winning streaks in the league, as well as two of the top players in Jones and Elena Delle Donne. And the game did not disappoint.
After an even start to the game, the Mystics used a late run to take control of the game at the end of the first quarter, and maintained that advantage into the halftime break after a back-and-forth second quarter. Coming out hot in the second half, Delle Donne and Co. appeared to be pulling away as they built a double-digit lead, but Jones and the Sun had other ideas.
In the middle of the third, Jones scored nine straight points for the Sun, including two 3s and a nasty turnaround fadeaway over EDD to put the Sun back in front. From there, the two teams battled until the closing minutes of the fourth, when the Sun started to pull away. In fitting fashion, Jones used a nifty up-and-under move on the block with under four minutes to play to give the Sun a double-digit lead of their own.
It's still early in the season, but this was an impressive performance from the Sun against one of the pre-season favorites to win the title. Jones, as well, showed that her hot start was no fluke, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and two blocks. She's now averaging 18 points, 12.1 rebounds and three blocks, and is the early frontrunner for MVP.
Now 6-1 on the season, the Sun have built a 1.5 game lead on the rest of the league, which is extra important in the WNBA, where earning a top-two seed guarantees you a double-bye to the semi-final round. In addition, their second win over the Mystics already this season gives them the season series between the two teams, which could be important for seeding purposes down the line.
After losing in the single-elimination second round to the Phoenix Mercury in each of the last two postseasons, the Sun look ready and capable to make the leap to contender status this time around.