September 16, 2020
‘I know he’s not gonna take me out’: Alyssa Thomas leads Connecticut past Chicago
The Sun rises on a new playoff game for Connecticut
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Connecticut Sun v Chicago Sky PALMETTO, FL – SEPTEMBER 15: Alyssa Thomas #25 of the Connecticut Sun drives to the basket against the Chicago Sky on September 15, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via GettyImages)
“It’s win or go home and I’m coming at you hard for 40 minutes,” Alyssa Thomas said after the Connecticut Sun defeated the Chicago Sky 94-81 Tuesday night.
Thomas, who was off the court for just 26 seconds of the game, had 28 points, 13 rebounds, including a WNBA Playoffs record 10 offensive, eight assists and one steal, once again dominating on the court.
“I mean, it’s playoffs time,” she said following the game. “I know I’m about to be out there for 40 minutes. I think Curt knows I’m a competitor, I want to win. And I know he’s not gonna take me out. And my job is to do whatever it is out there, whether that’s rebounding, scoring, playing defense. I just pride myself in doing everything and I think it’s my job just to get the team going.”
Thomas got the team going once again scoring the teams first four points. She eluded defenders, found her way to the basket and sought out contact against mismatches. The Sky could not find an answer to Thomas at the rim from her first shot to the fourth quarter.
During the first half the box score looked like many early games for the team. Thomas and Bonner had most of the points, with the rest of the team making small scoring contributions.
In the first quarter the duo Thomas (13) and Bonner (7) combined for 20 of the team’s 22 points and were up to 29 combined points after the end of the second quarter.
“I think she had 10 offensive rebounds,” Bonner said following the game. “That’s insane … She’s the most competitive player on that team and once she get going everybody else kind of get going, she makes you want to work a little bit harder.”
Early in the second half Jasmine Thomas and Briann January stepped up to help the Sun build their first double-digit lead, something they were able to maintain for most of the second half.
In the third quarter, seven different Sun players scored, which helped the team build their lead. It’s going to be critical for Connecticut to continue to get as many scorers involved in Thursday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks.
In the first matchup against the Sparks on July 30, Bonner had 34 points while Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas added 10 and 11 points, respectively. In the second matchup, Bonner, Thomas, Thomas and Brionna Jones all scored in double figures, something the team will have to try to replicate to defeat the Sparks in their second elimination game this week.
The Sun have been a better team when they are able to get everyone involved on offense, but against the Sparks the Sun will need to do it from the start of the game.
Kaila Charles stepped up in her first WNBA Playoff game, with 13 points. Seven of those points came in the first half, when the team needed them to stay afloat against the Sky’s fast-paced offense.
“I’m using my athleticism and skill and so I just wanted to make sure that I was being aggressive, not passing up opportunities if I saw a lane I’ll take it, but at the same time not forcing … that was my mindset to come out aggressive, have that attack mentality but like I said I didn’t want to force it. I just want to contribute to my team,” she said.
Charles approached the game without fear, making shots like she’s been there before.
“Kaila’s got a great motor, she can get herself to the rim, which she was able to do in the first half when Jasmine and Briann were struggling a little bit offensively she really provided us a big spark by being able to get herself to the rim,” Miller said. “…Quietly Kaila Charles has really had a great year for us, and we probably don’t win today without her contributions off the bench.”
Bonner praised Charles as well, acknowledging that Charles stepping up was going to be critical for the team’s ability to make a run.
“She was the x-factor off the bench and we’re gonna need that if we’re trying to make a run, so credit to her. To be a rookie and to come out and play in that situation and play the way she did, that’s pretty big,” she said.
Alyssa Thomas’ plan to continue the team’s playoff success is simple.
“Get some rest, get some sleep tonight. Get ready for who we have next and just keep going.”
The Sun return to the court on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET against the Sparks.
Written by Natalie Heavren
Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.
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