WNBA Finals 2022 – DeWanna Bonner, Connecticut Solar look to push Las Vegas Aces to decisive Sport 5

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces are each looking for their first title in franchise historical past within the 2022 WNBA Finals. However the Solar’s DeWanna Bonner is on the lookout for her third championship, which might come at a really completely different time and place in her life.

“You do must take time to take all of it in,” Bonner mentioned of her third journey to the WNBA Finals, the primary two ending in titles with the Phoenix Mercury in 2009 and 2014. “Successful a championship my first 12 months within the league, I did not understand how uncommon it was to get again right here. I feel that is what I’ve careworn to this crew: You do must attempt to benefit from the second.”

Bonner and the Solar did simply that in a 105-76 victory over Las Vegas in Sport 3 on Thursday at Mohegan Solar Area. Connecticut will attempt to prolong the sequence when the Solar host the Aces on Sunday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN) for Sport 4.

For the Solar to once more keep away from elimination, Bonner virtually actually might want to have quite a bit to do with it. She struggled offensively within the first two video games of the Finals, going 1-of-9 from the sector in every for a mixed 5 factors. Thursday she was 8-of-15 taking pictures and had 18 factors. She additionally was particularly energetic on the defensive finish, together with sharing the accountability of guarding red-hot Aces guard Chelsea Gray.

“She’s arduous on herself, and he or she’s not going to let herself proceed to be in a taking pictures droop like that,” mentioned Solar ahead Alyssa Thomas, who had a triple-double Thursday. “As soon as she had one shot go down the opposite night time, we knew it was going to be an extended night time for the opposite crew.”

It was, and it wasn’t completely surprising by Aces coach Becky Hammon.

“While you’ve received two in a row after which you are going to the opposite crew’s place to attempt to shut it out, there’s only a drive they create,” Hammon mentioned. “It is arduous to fulfill that with an equal quantity of drive. You are bringing in a bunch that’s fairly pleased with how they’ve performed vs. a bunch that’s ticked off.”

And Bonner’s impression was big in elevating the Solar’s degree of play general. Bonner, who turned 35 final month, is the oldest participant within the Finals this 12 months, and considered one of two who’ve received a WNBA title; Grey received a championship with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2016.

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DeWanna Bonner drives and drains the basket to present the Solar their first lead of the sport.

Phoenix chosen Bonner at No. 5 within the 2009 draft, a profitable class highlighted by prime decide Angel McCoughtry. The 6-foot-4 Bonner got here out of Auburn with some observers pondering her slight construct could be an issue on the professional degree, nevertheless it wasn’t. In 13 seasons — she sat out 2017 after having twin daughters — Bonner has averaged 14.7 factors, 6.2 rebounds and a couple of.3 assists. Plus, she has guarded a number of of the league’s finest gamers, particularly on the small ahead/wing place.

“She would not must rise up into some individuals like different defenders, as a result of she will be able to house and hole individuals after which nonetheless use her size after they go to shoot,” Solar coach Curt Miller mentioned. “She will be able to swap on the submit gamers. She will be able to rebound nicely. So she’s so useful defensively. When she has the vitality and performs with tempo, she could be so disruptive.”

Bonner, who joined the Solar in 2020, has a fierce aggressive streak which may not at all times be apparent together with her self-effacing and humorous character. She mentioned getting older means, “I am a agency believer in ice baths now,” however Bonner is appreciative that her expertise has helped make her a greater teammate.

“You do have these powerful nights,” Bonner mentioned. “However now we have such a fantastic group, a hungry group that’s at all times prepared to study. This 12 months might be probably the most enjoyable I’ve had with a crew, 13 years into my profession. To be at that time and nonetheless loving it’s a blessing.”

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