Sun stay alive, beat Aces 105-76 in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A historic performance by Alyssa Thomas helped the Connecticut Sun avoid elimination again.

Thomas had the first triple-double in WNBA Finals history and The Sun beat the Las Vegas Aces 105-76 in Game 3 on Thursday night.

She finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists for the Sun, who have now won all four of their elimination games in these playoffs, defeated Dallas in the first round away and defeated Chicago in Games 4 and 5 to end the series.

“We fought offensively and finally had a game at home again and my teammates fired shots,” said Thomas. “Without her none of this would have been possible.”

Las Vegas leads the best-of-five series 2-1 with Game 4 on Sunday in Connecticut.

The Aces got off to a quick start, scoring nine of the first 11 points and forcing Connecticut to take a timeout. That calmed the Sun and they took over, beating the Aces 32-10 for the rest of the quarter, including 25 of the last 29 points. Connecticut made 14 of its 17 shots in that period, and DeWanna Bonner was a big reason.

Bonner struggled in the first two games of the series, scoring five points overall while missing 16 of her 18 shots. She had seven points in the first 8 minutes on Thursday night and finished with 18.

“She was huge. She’s been here before. She won it. So we lean on them,” Thomas said. “And she fought offensively but we had nothing but faith in her and she came out and did her thing tonight.”

Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 20 points.

Jones, Bonner and Thomas helped Connecticut dominate inside as the Sun set a Finals record with 64 points while holding Las Vegas to 26.

“That was the MO of the playoffs,” Jones said. “Even the Chicago series, the team that won the suit won the game. There it is ready. I spoke to Lisa Leslie a long time ago and she said to win a championship you have to win the paint. I see it now and feel it now. I can go back to that and see that she was right.”

Connecticut used that advantage to lead 53-34 in the second quarter with 1:44 left before the Aces finished the period with the last nine points, including a 3-pointer from Kelsey Plum who hit the buzzer straight out the halffield.

The Sun regained momentum to start the third quarter and scored the first five points. Las Vegas couldn’t get any closer than six for the rest of the game.

“This is a team that is very resilient. If you could encapsulate Connecticut, it’s physical and very resilient,” said Aces coach Becky Hammon. “They are physical and resilient and we didn’t achieve that in any category tonight.”

Jackie Young scored 22 points and A’ja Wilson added 19 for the aces.

Las Vegas was thwarted in its first attempt to win the franchise’s first WNBA championship. The team has been to the finals twice before, being swept in 2008 and 2020.

SHE SAID, IT

“I was at a UFC fight the other night. … I wouldn’t want to get in the cage with her.” — Hammon on Thomas’ toughness.

TRIPLE DANGER

Thomas now has three triple-doubles in her career – all season. This was the third in WNBA playoff history. Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot and Houston’s Sheryl Swoopes had the others.

TIP INS

Former Aces president and coach Bill Laimbeer sat on the sidelines. He took over the franchise when it moved to Las Vegas in 2018 before retiring at the end of last season. Laimbeer was instrumental in assembling the championship roster, drafting Wilson for the first time in 2018 and leading Gray to join the team as a free agent last season. … Aces owner Mark Davis sat at the baseline. … Had the Aces been able to complete the comeback, they would have broken the mark for the biggest rally in WNBA Finals history. The New York Liberty came back from an 18-back against Houston in 1999 when Teresa Weatherspoon got a game-winning shot from the halffield. Hammon played for the Liberty in that game.

HONORED

Seattle’s Wilson and Breanna Stewart were the unanimous choice for the All-WNBA First Team, announced Thursday. Plum was also part of the first team, along with Phoenix’s Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chicago’s Candace Parker. Thomas and Jones were part of the second team along with Sabrina Ionescu from New York, Nneka Ogwumike from Los Angeles and Sylvia Fowles from Minnesota.

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More WNBA Playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-playoffs and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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