With Mystics' Elena Delle Donne out, Sun even WNBA Finals behind dominant Jonquel Jones

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Courtney Williams #10 of the Connecticut Sun celebrates with teammates against the Washington Mystics during the first half of Game Two of the 2019 WNBA finals at St Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena on October 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Courtney Williams and the Connecticut Sun evened the series in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The No. 2 Connecticut Sun will head home this weekend even in the WNBA Finals after a 99-87 Game 2 victory over the No. 1 Washington Mystics at Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

The Sun needed to get Jonquel Jones more involved and greatly succeeded. She had a massive double-double of 32 points (13-of-24 shooting) and 18 rebounds with one assist and three blocks. The 6-foot-6 Bahamian had zero offensive rebounds in the first game, but set a single-game WNBA playoff and Finals record in Game 2 with nine.

“I just had to be aggressive coming out tonight,” the fourth-year veteran told ESPN’s Holly Rowe on the broadcast. “I think that’s one of the big ways I can impact the game and tonight I think I did that.”

Jones was able to go off in part because Mystics star and league MVP Elena Delle Donne played only a few minutes of the game. She left with back spasms.

Game 3 is Sunday at 3 p.m. on ABC. It will be back at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Mystics forge ahead without EDD

Emma Meesseman came in for Delle Donne a mere 3:28 into the game and Delle Donne headed for the locker room. In the second quarter, the team reported she was suffering from back spams and was questionable to return. Delle Donne played through a deep bone bruise in the 2018 Finals, when the Mystics were swept by the Seattle Storm. It’s her third overall trip to the Finals.

Washington Post reporter Ava Wallace tweeted that the MVP wore a back wrap in Game 3 against the Las Vegas Aces. It was the team’s only loss of the semifinals.

Delle Donne averaged a league-best 19.5 points per game on 51.5 percent shooting and became the first WNBA player with a 50/40/90 season. She averaged 21.4 points over five postseason games.

The Mystics, the most efficient offensive team in league history, could keep up without her offensively but her presence was missed in the paint. Head coach Mike Thibault said with Delle Donne out, his team “didn’t absorb it very well” but bounced back in the second half. Overall, the Sun dominated the rebounds, 41-27.

Meesseman, the MVP for the Mystics in the semifinals, scored 23 points to lead the Mystics with eight rebounds, a team high. Kristi Toliver had 13 points, the highest total for any of the five starters. Combined the three others, excluding Delle Donne, had 22. The Washington bench, which Natasha Cloud said immediately after losing their star was going to be crucial, scored 29 (excluding Meesseman).

There are five days in between Games 2 and 3, allowing Delle Donne some rest. It’s a tighter schedule after that, with Game 4 two days following on Tuesday and Game 5, if necessary, on Thursday. The teams will travel back down the coast between Games 4 and 5.

Jones goes off in Game 2 for Sun

Jones, who Sun players said after Game 1 needed to get more touches going forward, was able to light up the scoreboard in part without the 6-foot-5 MVP. She had her first double-double of the first half this year with 18 points and 10 rebounds, which tied the finals record for a half.

Jones had 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting all of Game 1 with six rebounds, but none on offense.

As with her counterpart, Jones’ defense and strength on the boards was the Sun key. It shone brightest late in the second half after she was called for a fourth foul, though it was questionable if she was the transgressor, and hit the bench. The Mystics trailed 71-64 when Ariel Powers made the 3-point play. They tied the game 76-76 with 8:07 left, prompting Sun head coach Curt Miller to send Jones back in.

The Sun held their slim advantage, even as Jones took her fifth foul and played through it with 5:07 left (WNBA allows six fouls). Courtney Williams hit a 3-pointer with 3:01 left to push the lead back to six again and Jones followed it up with her own deep bucket to make it nine. As if laying in the ultimate dagger, she hit a final 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds to give the final score.

Sun scorch scoreboard in first half

The Sun led 56-46 at halftime as the Mystics tried to keep spirits up and reassess the game plan without Delle Donne. The 56 points was the second-most in a Finals game in history.

Alyssa Thomas added 12 points and seven rebounds. Bria Holmes added nine points off the bench.

The Mystics fell back on veteran Toliver, who dropped in 11 points in the first half. Meesseman, who Miller noted during halftime to ESPN was “just as dangerous,” had 10.

The Sun overall shot 50 percent on 42-of-84 shooting while the Mystics weren’t far behind at 47.2 percent (34 of 72). They led by as many as 14 points in the game and trailed only in the opening minutes when the Mystics went up 7-4.

Williams gets the mic

ESPN put microphones on both coaches and one player per game throughout the Finals. Game 2 featured none other than Williams, who has become a personality to watch through the 2019 postseason along with her hyped up dad on the sidelines.

She had 22 points for the Sun with six assists. She went 3 for 5 from behind the arc.

Thomas had 21 points and 12 rebounds. She has played all 80 minutes of the series so far.

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