Connecticut’s Dewanna Bonner had a career-high 41 points in Thursday night’s win over Las Vegas.
Two days ago, Connecticut’s Dewanna Bonner had a season-low five points in a six-point loss to the defending champion Las Vegas Aces at the Mohegan Sun Arena. In that same game, the Sun trailed by as many as 19 points and never led.
Things were different on Thursday night.
Bonner scored a career-high 41 points as the Sun handed the Aces their first loss of the season with a 90-77 victory before 5,174 fans. Connecticut (7-2) also got their first win of the season over Las Vegas or New York, the two big preseason favorites to win this year’s WNBA championship because the off-season acquisitions both teams made.
Bonner also set a new franchise record for most points in a single game, blowing past the previous record of 35 points set by Shannon Johnson against the Cleveland Rockers on this same day, June 8, in 2002.
The Sun also played some stifling defense from the start.
“(On Tuesday), we came out very passive. I don’t know why. They punched us in the mouth,” Bonner said. “Today, we were the aggressor from the first tip of the ball and (we said) let’s basketball. When we just play and don’t think too much, we’re a really great team. We kept our foot on the gas pedal.”
Bonner sank 16-of-23 shots from the field, including five three-point shots. Her previous season-high was 38 points.
“I don’t know what happened tonight,” Bonner said in jest. “I hope it happens again.”
When asked again, Bonner said, “I was just aggressive. I had five points (on Tuesday against Vegas). I know we can’t beat them with me playing that way. So, when I began to see my shots falling, I just kept shooting. It felt good. It was a lot of fun.”
“Everyone was looking for her,” Sun coach Stephanie White said. “She had the hot hand and everyone had an eye on her and tried to find her, which was good.”
Bonner had six of Connecticut’s first 12 points and two three-point shots from Bonner gave the Sun a 10-point lead in the first quarter.
The Sun, who led by as many as 23, led by 15 at the break with Bonner having 18 points in the first half.
“Our energy was there. Our execution was there. We share the basketball and our intensity level for 40 minutes was terrific,” White said.
Las Vegas cut the lead to 10 in the fourth quarter but the Sun, led by Bonner, pulled away. Bonner also set a new franchise record for most points in a single quarter with 17 in the fourth quarter. She was 6-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the foul line in the final quarter.
“Super proud of her. She took the last game kinda hard,” Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas said. “She holds herself to high standards. For her not to hesitate and let it go, I think everyone in that locker room is super proud. We know what she is all about and what she is capable of. I think she reminded the league of what kind of player she is.”
With her 41-point performance, Bonner became the first player in WNBA history to score 40 or more points against an undefeated team.
Brionna Jones had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Sun with Thomas scoring nine points, dishing out a game-high 12 assists and pulling down eight rebounds. Tiffany Hayes scored 11 with Natisha Heideman adding nine as the Sun scored a season-high 94 points.
Las Vegas (7-1) got 16 points from Kelsey Plum and 13 from A’Ja Wilson.
The Sun return to action on Sunday when they travel to Atlanta to face the Dream at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston and streamed on ESPN3. The next home game is Thursday, June 15 against Atlanta at 7 p.m.
Connecticut 94, Las Vegas 77
Las Vegas (77) Parker 2-2-6, Wilson 5-3-13, Gray 5-0-12, Plum 5-3-16, Young 4-2-10, Clark 2-0-4, George 2-0-6, Stokes 0-2-2, Colson 1-0-3, Bell 2-0-5. Totals 28-12-77
Connecticut (94) Bonner 16-4-41, Thomas 3-3-9, Jones 6-0-12, Hayes 4-2-11, Hiedeman 4-0-9, Nelson-Ododa 0-0-0, Allen 2-0-5, Harris 2-2-6, Carrington 0-1-1, Brown 0-0-0. Totals 37-12-94
Las Vegas (7-1) 15 13 24 25 — 77
Connecticut (7-2) 26 17 21 30 — 90
Three-point goals: Las Vegas (9-21) Gray 2, Plum 3, George 2, Colson, Bell; Connecticut (8-14) Bonner 5, Hayes, Hiedeman, Allen
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