Connecticut Suns up 2-0
The Connecticut Suns opened up the WNBA semifinals with a victory 84-75 over the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Small forward Alyssa Thomas led the Suns, putting up 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead a balanced Connecticut attack. Guard Jasmine Thomas didn’t let Alyssa Thomas carry the team alone, contributing 19 points of her own. Forward Jonquel Jones and guard Courtney Williams rounded out the offensive stat sheet for the Suns, putting up 16 and 15 points, respectfully. Leading the defeated Sparks squad forwards Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike combined for 44 points and 20 rebounds, but their efforts weren’t enough alone, as the remainder of the squad couldn’t muster a strong offensive effort. The Suns forced the Sparks into 17 turnovers and Los Angeles’ starting backcourt duo of guards Riquna Williams and Chelsea Gray combined to only hit three of their 17 shots. Connecticut trailed by three points at halftime but scored the first nine points of the third quarter. A layup by Williams just before the third quarter’s buzzer sent the Suns into the final 10 minutes up 59-58. Connecticut never trailed in the fourth, and a key shot from beyond the arc by Jones gave the Suns a seven-point lead with four minutes remaining.
In their Thursday night rematch, the Connecticut Suns took care of business once more, taking a 2-0 series lead against the Sparks in a 94-68 victory. Center Brionna Jones scored 27 points and Courtney Williams added 25 of her own to help the Sun rout the Sparks. Los Angeles stormed out to an early lead and didn’t surrender it until under a minute left in the first half. Connecticut led 41-40 at the half, with Jones having 15 points for Connecticut while Ogwumike made all six of her shots and had 12 for Los Angeles. The Suns led by one at the half before Williams helped blow the game open early in the third quarter, scoring 13 points. Sparks’ guard Riquna Williams added 14 for Los Angeles, who will now have to win three straight to make it back to the WNBA Finals for their third time in five years.
Washington Mystics up 2-0
The Washington Mystics took on the Las Vegas Aces for the first time of the WNBA semifinals on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Mystics’ forward Elena Delle Donne scored 24 points and hit a crucial turnaround jumper late, while center Emma Meesseman added a career postseason high 27 points and 10 rebounds, allowing the Mystics to pull out the 97-95 victory over the Aces. Forward A’ja Wilson scored 23 points for Las Vegas, including a run that nearly closed the deficit late in the fourth quarter. Center Liz Cambage had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while guard Kayla McBride added 19 points. After Mystics’ guard Kristi Toliver drained a three-pointer, making it 92-79 in the fourth quarter, the Aces scored nine straight points to close the deficit to four, while twice locking down the Mystics on offense and forcing turnovers. It was Washington’s first win all year by a single possession, one in which the Aces missed a game-tying runner at the buzzer.
Meesseman tied a career-high with 30 points in her second consecutive exceptional performance, and the Washington Mystics beat the Las Vegas Aces 103-91 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in their WNBA semifinal series. Guard Natasha Cloud added 18 points and 11 assists for Washington, while Delle Donne scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on the day. Delle Donne also happened to snag her second league MVP the same night, and the Mystics continued to roll on. Aces’ guard Kelsey Plum added 19 points and 10 assists for Las Vegas, which fought back from an 11-point second-quarter deficit to take a brief lead in the third, only to fade late. Washington took control with a 10-0 run in the third quarter and never looked back.