- Courtney Williams went off and Emma Meesseman put on a show again as the Sun and Mystics enjoyed comfortable wins that have put their opposition on the brink of elimination.
Coming into the third quarter of Game 2 between the Connecticut Sun and the Los Angeles Sparks, it was anyone’s game. The Sun came out of halftime up one but Los Angeles looked to be in the mood for an upset.
Then Courtney Williams decided that enough was enough.
Connecticut’s mercurial guard got hot and hit some massive shots—much to the delight of her energizer bunny father who could constantly be found on the broadcast—and as Williams got hot, the Sun began to pull away.
Williams went 5-for-8 in the third quarter, scoring 13 points and helping her team to a 12-point lead that they would only stretch out as the game went on. Williams finished with 25 points and Connecticut won, 94–68.
While Williams will, deservedly, get most of the plaudits from the Sun’s Game 2 win, Jonquel Jones was balling too. The versatile Sun big was massive for Connecticut, leading all scorers with 27 points while hoovering up 13 rebounds.
In fact, rebounding would become something of a theme as the night went on, as the Sun outrebounded the Sparks 46 to 24, including a plus-12 offensive rebounding advantage. Beating the Sun is difficult enough when you aren’t spotting them the upper hand on the boards.
The Sparks also weren’t helped by many of their stars failing to make an impact on either end of the floor. Candace Parker took only three shots and scored three points. Chelsea Gray and Riquana Williams, who combined for six points in Game 1, scored 24 points on … 25 shots. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike scored 17 and 10, respectively, but that about summed up all of L.A.’s scoring.
Meanwhile, the Sun got production from all over the roster, including Rachel Banham bombing away from 3 and scoring 11 points while the game was mostly decided.
Now the Sparks are on the verge of elimination as they return to the West Coast. L.A. can’t afford another dud from Parker and will need even more production out of its starting backcourt if it wants to extend the series.
Nneka Ogwumike is one of the most consistent players in the W, but she alone can’t will the Sparks to a win. The Sparks need to find a way to slow down Courtney Williams and Jones and keep Conneticuit off the boards or their season will be over by the end of the week.
The Sparks weren’t the only ones who saw their chances of winning slide in the third quarter though. The Aces took the lead briefly in the third quarter but as buckets became harder to come by, found themselves swallowed up by the machine that is the Washington Mystic’s offense.
Washington ended the third quarter on a 19–5 run and took a good deal of wind out of Las Vegas’s sails ahead of the final 10 minutes, eventually putting the Aces on the brink of elimination with a 103–91 win.
Emma Meesseman was fantastic again, scoring 30 points, needing only three quarters to match her Game 1 total of 27, and putting the team on her back as some of the other Mystics struggled—and by struggled, I mean Elena Delle Donne wasn't the all-consuming offensive monster she usually is and Kristi Toliver still looked a bit rusty despite nailing some difficult shots late.
Delle Donne, who was presented with her second MVP award Thursday, wasn’t as sharp as we are accustomed to, mostly due to receiving quite a bit of attention from the WNBA’s best defensive team during the regular season. She even showed her mortality by missed a free throw—only the fifth miss in her playoff career(!!)—but still ended with 14 points.
But the Mystics’ role players, if that term even really applies to anyone on this team, stepped up massively. Natasha Cloud carved the Aces up for 11 assists and multiple smart cuts to the rim that saw her finish with 18 points. LaToya Sanders was also money from the midrange early, while Aerial Powers hit some tough shots to help the Mystics look dominant, even with a down night from the league’s MVP.
Now it’s back to the drawing board for Bill Laimbeer and the Aces. Kelsey Plum has been a revelation since rediscovering her confidence late in the season and there aren’t many players that can contend with Liz Cambage’s length in the post, but almost everywhere else on the court, Las Vegas has problems.
A’ja Wilson was ineffective in Thursday’s game, scoring eight points on 25% shooting. Kayla McBride found shots hard to come by on the perimeter and Jackie Young, despite making some early shots, still isn’t giving the Aces what they need on either side of the court.
Some home cooking might be just what the Aces need to take a game or two in this series but if they can’t find a way to stop more than one player in Washington’s historic offense, the Mystics might be looking at a week of rest at home before hosting the first game of the WNBA Finals.