AP

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

Sep 15, 2022, 8:26 AM | Updated: 9:03 pm

Connecticut Sun's Alyssa Thomas reacts during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball final p...

Connecticut Sun's Alyssa Thomas reacts during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball final playoff series against the Las Vegas Aces, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


              Connecticut Sun's Alyssa Thomas, left, looks to pass while Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson defends during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball final playoff series, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Isiah Thomas, second from left, speaks with Bill Laimbeer before Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson, left, and Connecticut Sun's Jonquel Jones vie for the ball during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Connecticut Sun's Brionna Jones reacts during the first half in Game 3 of the basketball team's WNBA Finals against the Las Vegas Aces, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Las Vegas Aces' Chelsea Gray reacts after losing possession of the ball during the first half in Game 3 of the basketball team''s WNBA Finals against the Connecticut Sun, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Las Vegas Aces' Kiah Stokes, left, blocks a shot attempt by Connecticut Sun's Natisha Hiedeman as Aces' A'ja Wilson, center, defends during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Connecticut Sun's Brionna Jones shoots as Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson, right, defends during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Connecticut Sun's Natisha Hiedeman, left, and Brionna Jones, right, pressure Las Vegas Aces' Kelsey Plum during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson dribbles as Connecticut Sun's Jonquel Jones defends during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Connecticut Sun's Jonquel Jones shoots as Las Vegas Aces' A'ja Wilson, right, defends during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's WNBA Finals, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
            
              Connecticut Sun's Alyssa Thomas reacts during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball final playoff series against the Las Vegas Aces, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A historic effort from Alyssa Thomas helped the Connecticut Sun stave off 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, topping Dallas on the road in the first round and beating Chicago in Games 4 and 5 to close out that series.

“We’ve been struggling offensively and we finally got a game back at home and my teammates were hitting shots,” Thomas said. “None of this would have been possible without them.”

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

The Aces got off to a fast start, scoring nine of the first 11 points and forcing Connecticut to call a timeout. That settled the Sun down and they took over, outscoring the Aces 32-10 the rest of the quarter, including 25 of the final 29 points. Connecticut made 14 of its 17 shots in the period and DeWanna Bonner was a big reason why.

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

“She was huge. She’s been here before. She’s won it. So, we lean on her,” Thomas said. “And she’s been struggling 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 in the paint while holding Las Vegas to 26.

“That’s been the M.O. of the playoffs,” Jones said. “Even the Chicago series, the team that won the paint, won the game. That’s where it’s done. A long time ago, I talked to Lisa Leslie 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 she was right.”

Connecticut used that advantage to lead 53-34 with 1:44 left in the second quarter before the Aces closed the period by scoring the final nine points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Kelsey Plum from just inside half-court.

The Sun seized momentum back to start the third quarter, scoring the first five points. Las Vegas couldn’t get closer than six the rest of the game.

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

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

Las Vegas was thwarted in its first attempt at winning the franchise’s inaugural WNBA championship. The team had been in the Finals twice before and got swept in 2008 and 2020.

SHE SAID IT

“I went to a UFC fight the other night. … I would not want to get in the cage with her.” — Hammon on Thomas’ toughness.

TRIPLE THREAT

Thomas now has three triple-doubles in her career — all this 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 courtside. 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 by drafting Wilson first in 2018 and getting Gray to come to the team last season as a free agent. … Aces owner Mark Davis sat on the baseline. … Had the Aces been able to complete the comeback, they would have broken the mark for biggest rally in WNBA Finals history. The New York Liberty came back from 18 down in 1999 against Houston when Teresa Weatherspoon hit a game-winning shot from half-court. Hammon played for the Liberty in that game.

HONORED

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

___

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

9 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

9 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

9 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

9 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

9 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

9 months ago

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