Jun. 6—MOHEGAN — The New York Liberty have had one of the most entertaining offenses early in this WNBA season using spacing and a bevy of threes to get out to their best start in four seasons.
The Connecticut Sun managed to put the brakes on New York in the second half of Saturday night’s game.
Sun post Jonquel Jones had a game-high 31 points and 13 rebounds as Connecticut used both its defense and superior size to down the Liberty, 85-64, before 2,118 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
New York led, 33-29, with 3 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half. It also outshot the Sun in the first half, 53.6-percent to 42.9.
The Liberty shot just 33.3-percent (9 of 27) in the second half and were held 20 points under their season-average.
“They shot crazy in the first half,” Sun Jasmine Thomas said. “We made a concerted effort (at halftime) to be better (defensively) and kind of force them to take some shots they didn’t want to take in the second half.”
“It starts with an individual effort,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “We tried to put length on (Laney) with DB. We had attention to her. She’s such a focal point on-and-off the ball.
“Jasmine Thomas (nine assists) was individually terrific on Sabrina Ionescu. We showed a lot of attention to her.”
Jonquel Jones, May’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month, scored 29 after the first quarter. She made 12 of 16 shots.
“We understood that they were going to play a ‘small ball’ lineup,” Jones said. “While it gives them some advantages offensively, we understood that defensively they were going to be really, really small.
“At the beginning of the game I tried to assert myself to get position (down low), but it wasn’t really working out. Getting on the offensive boards (helped).
“The second quarter and the rest of the game we kind of settled in and I was able to get the catches and the touches that I wanted.”
Brionna Jones had 14 points and eight rebounds and DeWanna Bonner scored 13 for Connecticut.
The Sun (8-2) outrebounded the Liberty, 38-22, including 14-3 on the offensive glass.
Connecticut also had a commanding edge in both second-chance points (22-2) and points in the paint (44-18).
“We found our tempo and stayed true to what we thought would work and that was playing through the paint; playing through our size advantage,” Miller said. “We slowed down, and we executed.”
Rebecca Allen (14 points) was the only player to score in double figures for the Liberty (5-4).
New York was without post Natasha Howard, one of the biggest free agent acquisitions of the offseason. She’s out three-to-five weeks with an MCL sprain.
Connecticut began to use its size and length to its advantage late in the first half to go ahead, 43-37, at halftime.
The Sun use those edges — and Jonquel Jones — to open the third quarter with a 9-0 run.
Brionna Jones’ offensive rebound after a missed Thomas’ three allowed Thomas to take — and make — another.
Jonquel Jones scored six during that run, all inside. She closed the run with a short jumper against a double team to give the Sun a 52-37 lead with 7:01 left in the third.
Connecticut led after three quarters, 62-49. It was helped by the Liberty shooting 26.7-percent in the third.
Jones’ three gave the Sun their largest lead, 81-58, with 1:56 left in the game.
“We know that they’re a talented team,” Thomas said. “We know they can shoot the ball. They play with a good pace. I think in the second half, when we were able to get stops, then we were able to control the tempo of the game.”