WNBA Finals: Connecticut Sun stay alive with resounding Game 3 win over Las Vegas Aces

·12 min read
Alyssa Thomas #25 of the Connecticut Sun is congratulated by teammate Jonquel Jones.
Alyssa Thomas #25 of the Connecticut Sun is congratulated by teammate Jonquel Jones.

The Connecticut Sun kept their championship aspirations alive Thursday with a resounding win over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. Sun forward Alyssa Thomas wrote a new entry in the record books with the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history, scoring 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.

Las Vegas, which holds a 2-1 series lead, was led by Jackie Young with 22 points, while 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson added 19. Kelsey Plum chipped in 17 and Chelsea Gray scored 11. The top-seeded Aces will have a second attempt to close out their first title in franchise history on the road Sunday afternoon in Game 4 (4 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3: Post-game quotes

Sun’s Alyssa Thomas on historic triple-double performance: “That’s what I’ve been doing all season. We’ve been struggling offensively and finally got a game back at home. Me and my teammates were making shots, so none of this is ever possible without them.”

Sun head coach Curt Miller on Alyssa Thomas (video below): “She’s probably the toughest player I’ve ever coached, but she’s the most consistent player in terms of effort that I’ve ever been around. I know what I’m going to get every single day. That’s how she plays and that’s what makes her special. She doesn’t know how to play other than that way.”

Aces head coach Becky Hammon on Game 3 loss: “This game was about physicality and mental toughness and they smoked us on it. Period. The physical follows but the mental for them was there and not us. And kudos to them for executing their game plan and executing it hard. They didn’t do a whole lot different, they just did it harder. They’ve been blitzing us the whole series, they just did it harder and we responded soft.”

Sun’s DeWanna Bonner on Alyssa Thomas’ triple-double: “When you say the engine, she’s the engine. You know, you don’t use that [word] loosely, so shout out to her. We were just able to hit a couple of shots tonight so that she can get her triple-double. So she needs to thank me.” [Laughter ensues.]

Aces’ A’ja Wilson on what went wrong in first quarter as Sun outscored Aces, 34-19: “Defense, defense. We just were not locked in on the defensive and we were a step slow on the defensive end. And that fuels our offense. So we have to be more locked in on the defensive side, more than anything, when you’re playing against a team like Conn. And so for us to come out and lack that, it was gonna be a long game for us regardless of who we played.”

Sun’s Jonquel Jones on Game 3 win: “I think it’s just the MO of our team: When our backs are against the wall, we play really good basketball. Sometimes you wish that you didn’t put yourself in those positions, but that’s done now. All we can do is focus on the next game.”

Aces’ Jackie Wilson on her 22-point performance and what Vegas needs to do in Game 4: “I just did what I supposed to do — knock down open shots. They were leaving me open. I just have to step into it with confidence and make the shot. Besides that, we’ll make a few adjustments. We made it too easy for them. They’re a physical team, and we just have to match their physical energy.”

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3: Fourth-quarter live updates

9:10 Q4: There it is! First triple-double in WNBA Finals history, recorded by Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas (video below). Thomas’ assist on the layup by DeWanna Bonner gives her 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Sun lead 83-69. Additionally, Thomas’ 15 boards is a new postseason career high, and she also becomes the first player to record a triple-double in both a regular season contest (two) and postseason contest in a single season.

5:37 Q4: Nearly midway through the fourth quarter, DiJonai Carrington makes two free throws to give the Sun a 92-76 lead. Carrington has nine points and one steal off the bench.

4:22 Q4: Aces head coach Becky Hammon takes out her starters, obviously preparing for a Game 4 in Connecticut. Jackie Young leads all scorers with 22 points, while A’ja Wilson has 19 points, Kelsey Plum 17 and Chelsea Gray 11. Sun lead, 94-76.

0:00 Q4: The Sun pull off the win to keep their championship dreams alive, closing with a 19-0 run to beat the Aces 105-76.

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3: Third-quarter live updates

8:59 Q3: The Sun start the third quarter with five unanswered points including a three from DeWanna Bonner (video below), pushing the lead to 58-42. The Sun set two WNBA Finals records in the first half, scoring the most points in the first quarter of a WNBA Finals game (34) and the most assists in any half of an WNBA Finals game (19).

2:56 Q3: Courtney Williams’ jumper from 21 feet makes it 73-61 and all five Sun starters are now in double-digit points. Jonquel Jones leads Connecticut with 18 points.

1:31 Q3: A’ja Wilson’s layup makes it a nine-point game, at 75-66.

0:00 Q3: The Aces win the third quarter, 27-24, but the Sun maintain their advantage and head into the fourth quarter up 77-69.

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3: Second-quarter live updates

8:35 Q2: The Sun pick up where they left off in the first quarter, making two unanswered buckets including a three from Natisha Hiedeman to extend the lead to 20 points (39-19).

6:17 Q2: A’ja Wilson ends a five-minute scoring drought for Last Vegas, but the Aces still lag behind by 20 points (41-21).

26.8 Q2: As the second quarter winds down, Connecticut maintains its commanding lead at 53-39. However three Aces players — Wilson, Chelsea Gray (video below) and Jackie Young have all reach double digits in scoring.

0:00 Q2: Huge three from Kelsey Plum (video below), who swishes it from 41 feet at the buzzer, cutting the Aces’ deficit to 11 points at the half (53-42).

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3: First-quarter live updates

9:35 Q1: Newly named All-WNBA First Team selection A’ja Wilson gets the first points (video below) on the board for Vegas for the third straight game.

4:58 Q1: Midway through the first quarter and Aces lead, 15-11 behind nine points from Jackie Young (video below). She had just five points in Game 2.

3:15 Q1: The Sun take their first lead of Game 3 on a bucket from DeWanna Bonner, 19-17.

2:13 Q1: DeWanna Bonner swishes a three-pointer in what feels like a change in momentum for Connecticut. The Sun have scored 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting (80%).

0:00 Q1: The Sun finish the quarter on a 10-1 run and lead by 15 at 34-19. Jonquel Jones (video below) has 18 points while Alyssa Thomas is one assist away from a triple-double (12 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists).

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3 pre-game: A’ja Wilson leads All-WNBA team selections

Ahead of Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, the league announces its All-WNBA selections, featuring 2022 WNBA MVP and Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson and Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart as unanimous first-team picks. Joining them on this year’s First Team are Aces guard Kelsey Plum, Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chicago Sky center-forward Candace Parker.

This year’s All-WNBA Second Team includes Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, Sun forward Jonquel Jones and Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. This marks the eighth all-WNBA Team selection for Fowles, who retired at the end of this season.

WNBA Finals Game 3: What’s at Stake

  • The Connecticut Sun look to stave off elimination in their first game at home since Game 4 of their semifinals series win vs. the Seattle Storm on Sept. 6. The No. 3 seeded Sun hope home-court advantage will provide the boost they need in pursuit of the franchise’s first-ever WNBA title. The Sun have previously qualified for the WNBA Finals three times (most recently in 2019).

  • Now in their fifth year as the Las Vegas Aces, the franchise is looking to capture its first WNBA title under first-year head coach and 2022 WNBA Coach of the Year Becky Hammon. This marks the second time the Aces have appeared in the Finals, after losing in a three-game sweep to the Seattle Storm in 2020. Las Vegas looks to extend its lead to 2-0 before heading to Connecticut for Game 3 on Thursday.

Refresher: Aces take 2-0 series lead behind A’ja Wilson’s second straight double-double

The Las Vegas Aces extended their advantage over the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, winning Game 2 of their best-of-five WNBA Finals series in decisive fashion, 85-71. The 2022 WNBA MVP, A’ja Wilson, powered the Aces with a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Chelsea Gray (21 points, eight assists) and Kelsey Plum (20 points, seven assists) punctuated the scoring with 20-point performances of their own.

The Sun were paced by Courtney Williams with 18 points and five assists. Also in double figures were Jonquel Jones (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Alyssa Thomas (13 points), while Brionna Jones came off the bench to score 12.

What they’re saying ahead of Game 3 between Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun:

Sun coach Curt Miller on approach to must-win Game 3: “You can’t think big picture. That becomes overwhelming and daunting and feels, at times, bigger. It’s too big. So you’ve got to drill it down. … All we’ll talk about is Game 3, and in particular, all we are going to talk about is the first quarter, and that’s our approach. I think if you start thinking we have to win three in a row, we have to do those kind of things, it becomes big. So we are going to talk about Game 3 and Game 3 only and be ready for that first quarter.”

Aces’ head coach Becky Hammon on balancing “the excitement of going up 2-0 but staying locked in”: “I mean, I don’t see any banners. I don’t see any balloons. Sure as hell glad I didn’t see that confetti again because we ain’t won nothing yet.”

Sun’s Jonquel Jones on mindset for Game 3: We have another opportunity. That’s why it’s a series, and like I said before, we’re going home and we’re going in front of our fans and we are going to use it to help us win the game.”

Aces’ Chelsea Gray on what it will take to close out the series: “I would say, ‘Not look too far ahead.’ We have to focus on winning that first quarter and winning that second quarter, and the big picture will happen. It’s the little things that gets the wins. It’s not like at the end you try to go and out-score somebody. It’s the little things. It’s the rebounding. It’s playing for each other — one more pass, one more play — and that’s what we have been doing all playoffs. We have to be able to do that for Game 3.”

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun: Leading scorers ahead of WNBA Finals’ Game 3

Aces leading scorers (postseason points average):

  • Chelsea Gray, 23.3

  • A’ja Wilson, 21.6

  • Kelsey Plum, 17.4

  • Jackie Young, 11.3

  • Riquna Williams, 6.1

Sun leading scorers (postseason points average):

  • Jonquel Jones, 14.6

  • DeWanna Bonner, 12.0

  • Alyssa Thomas, 11.6

  • Brionna Jones, 10.4

  • Courtney Williams, 9.5

2022 WNBA Finals Schedule: Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun

Note: Games marked with an asterisk (*) are if necessary

  • Game 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 — Connecticut at Las Vegas

    • Las Vegas wins, 67-64 (3 p.m. ET on ABC)

  • Game 2: Tuesday, Sept. 13 — Connecticut at Las Vegas 

    • Las Vegas wins, 85-71 (9 p.m. ET on ESPN)

  • Game 3: Thursday, Sept. 15 — Las Vegas at Connecticut 

    • 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

  • Game 4*: Sunday, Sept. 18 — Las Vegas at Connecticut 

    • 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

  • Game 5*: Tuesday, Sept. 20 — Connecticut at Las Vegas

    • 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

MORE WNBA: 2022 WNBA Finals — Las Vegas vs. Connecticut schedule, how to watch, results

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WNBA Finals: Connecticut Sun stay alive with resounding Game 3 win over Las Vegas Aces originally appeared on NBCSports.com