UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams got the Connecticut Sun going in the third quarter and the team never looked back.
Jones scored 27 points and Williams added 25 to help the Sun rout the Los Angeles Sparks 94-68 on Thursday night and take a 2-0 lead in the WNBA semifinals.
"I think we brought a different type of energy. LA came out and hit us in our mouth," Williams said of the Sparks' early lead. "You know we had to come out and withstand their runs, stay mentally strong. We know basketball is a game of runs. We went on our run and kept our foot on the gas."
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Sunday in Long Beach, California, as the Sparks' normal home in Los Angeles isn't available.
"Right now at this time of the year our home court at Staples is prioritized with the Kings and their preseason games. So that's how it is," said Nneka Oguwmike, who led the Sparks with 18 points.
The Sun led by one at the half before Williams helped blow the game open. She scored 13 of her points in the third quarter to the delight of her dad, Don, who was courtside wearing her No. 10 jersey. He was jumping up and down on every one of her baskets and waving a towel and a cardboard cutout of his daughter's head. After the final buzzer, he ran on the court and picked up his daughter in a bear hug.
"Having my dad there is crazy. It's an amazing feeling to look over there and see someone bringing more energy than me," Williams said. "He's been here since I was born, obviously. ... It takes me to another level to be able to look over to him and him telling me to stop turning the ball over. ... Telling me free throws are free, don't miss no free throws. Having him here, I love it."
Connecticut led 70-57 after three quarters and scored 10 of the first 12 points in the fourth to dash any hopes Los Angeles had of a comeback. Sparks coach Derek Fisher pulled his starters with 5:31 left and his team down 23 points.
Riquna Williams added 14 for the Sparks, who will have to win three straight to make the WNBA Finals for the third time in five years.
"We weren't able to sustain the fight and energy it takes to win these games on the road," Fisher said. "Credit them for how hard they were able to play."
Riquna Williams had a dismal Game 1, missing eight of her nine shots and scoring just two points in the nine-point loss. She got out to a quick start on Thursday, scoring seven points in the first five minutes. Los Angeles led 16-6 midway through the period when Connecticut called timeout. The Sun then scored nine straight to get within one before the Sparks closed the quarter with the final six points.
The Sun battled back and took their first lead of the game with 1:04 left in the half on a basket by Jones. Connecticut led 41-40 at the half. Jones had 15 points for Connecticut while Ogwumike made all six of her shots and had 12 for Los Angeles.
Alyssa Thomas played the first 74 minutes of the series before finally subbing out for the first time with 5:31 left in the game and her team up comfortably. She finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists and helped hold Sparks star Candace Parker to just three points.
CHAIRWOMEN OF THE BOARDS
The 29 rebounds by Connecticut in the first half broke the WNBA playoff mark for a half. Four teams held the previous record of 28, most recently the 2017 Mystics. Connecticut finished the game with 46 to Los Angeles' 24.
"The rebounding is what stands out on the stat sheet tonight," Miller said. "It carried us when we were struggling in the first half."