July 29, 2020 

DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas dominate, but Sun lose again

Can Jacki Gemelos provide that extra offensive spark?

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Jackie Gemelos. (WNBA Media Central)

Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Connecticut Sun were down 88-75 to the Washington Mystics, none of their previous lineups were working. Something needed to change. So head coach Curt Miller put in Jacki Gemelos who hadn’t checked into a WNBA game in 1,780 days. 

76 seconds later…

44 seconds after that… 

Even so, and though DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas combined for 57 points, the Sun still lost, 94-89. 

Gemelos failed to get on the court in the team’s season opener and expected the same result Tuesday night. 

“I didn’t think I was gonna play. But I think a big key on this team, especially my role, is to just always have that feeling of maybe what if, if I do get in, making sure I know what’s going on in the game, contributing in the ways that I know how to contribute,” Gemelos said.  

With fatigue playing a role in these early games, Miller said that Gemelos got her chance because Jasmine Thomas looked gassed. 

“We went with Jacki and Jacki made a couple big shots and all of a sudden the momentum turned again and that’s what this league is all about,” he said. 

Mystics head coach Mike Thibault has known Gemelos since she was in college, though he wasn’t excited about her performance late in the game.

“I wasn’t happy for her at all tonight. If she did it in a couple days, I’d be really thrilled for her,” Thibault joked. “She’s been through a lot with all the knee surgeries, so I’m being a little bit facetious, but I’d just rather she do it against somebody else.”

Gemelos’ return to a WNBA court was bittersweet, while she wished her team had won, individually she was excited to be there and get on the floor. 

The greatest feeling in the world is being exactly where I was tonight,” she said. 

Gemelos has demonstrated that she has a place in the lineup and can step up when she needs to. The team has struggled to shoot from behind the arc in the team’s first two games, a Gemelos strength.  

Bonner played all 40 minutes and finished the game with 29 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block. She also went 4-8 from behind the arc after going 0-6 against the Lynx on Sunday. 

Thomas played 38 minutes and had 28 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and one steal. However, she made just one of her four shots in the final quarter. This includes a missed layup with 15.4 seconds left that would have brought the Sun within one. 

While Bonner and Thomas’ productivity will be key to the team’s success, other players need to step up if the team is going to start winning games. 

The third-highest scorer for the Sun Tuesday night was Natisha Hiedeman, who had eight points in 22 minutes. While Hiedeman’s spark off the bench certainly helped the Sun in the second half, the team needs more sparks, particularly in the fourth quarter, to close out games. 

Jasmine Thomas has averaged at least 11 points each of the least four seasons, but is averaging just 6.5 points per game this season. While she is facilitating and working to get her teammates the ball, Connecticut’s offense has always been better when Thomas is scoring as well.

After the game, Miller said that the margin of error is very small for his team right now. It’s clear the turnovers and missed layups will need to be cleaned up if the team is going to take a step forward this season. 

The Sun take on the Los Angeles Sparks Thursday at 10 p.m. on ESPN. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been covering women’s basketball since February 2019 and currently covers both the Atlantic 10 and the WNBA.

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