Uncasville- The Connecticut Sun started their journey in the WNBA playoffs with a bang, facing off against the Minnesota Lynx in a best-of-three series. Game 1 showcased the Sun's prowess, securing a dominant 90-60 victory in front of their fervent fans. From the opening tip-off, the Sun set the tone. Tiffany Hayes wasted no time, sinking a three-pointer, and then the Sun's defense stepped up, stealing the ball. Dewanna Bonner followed suit with a three of her own. Hayes continued her sharpshooting, hitting another three, giving the Sun an early 9-2 lead. The crowd's enthusiastic chants of "Defense!" reverberated, causing the Lynx to falter. Dorka missed two free throws, but Napheesa Collier's "and-1" play kept the Lynx in the game at 9-5. A timeout was called with 4:36 left in the first quarter, and upon the return, Dewanna Bonner executed a slick backdoor cut, extending the Sun's lead to 11-5. The Sun's relentless offensive rebounds led to Natisha Hiedeman's three, pushing their advantage to 14-5.
The Lynx, led by Kayla McBride, fought back valiantly, with McBride scoring buckets and threes to bring the Lynx within two points at 16-14. Alyssa Thomas answered for the Sun, but McBride had the last say of the quarter, ending it with the Sun leading 18-16. The second quarter saw a seesaw battle, with Arieal Powers tying the game at 18-18. Nikolina Milc of the Lynx stepped up to the free-throw line, putting her team ahead 22-20. However, the Sun's Olivia quickly responded with a score down low, tying the game once again. The seesaw battle continued with Bridget Carleton's jumper for the Lynx and Ty Harris's clutch three-pointer for the Sun, giving them a 25-24 lead.
Harris wasn't finished, as she banked in another three to extend the Sun's lead to 28-24. Tiffany Hayes of the Sun displayed her two-way skills by drawing a charge and then Dewanna Bonner hitting a three-pointer, increasing their lead to 31-24. The Lynx's Rachel Banham fired back with a three, but the Sun's Tiffany Hayes was relentless, sinking another shot from beyond the arc, making it 34-26. As the first half neared its end, DiJonai Carrington of the Sun showcased her skills with a fantastic floater and converted the and-1 opportunity, pushing the lead to 37-27. The Lynx struggled with turnovers, allowing Carrington to add a layup to her tally. Kayla McBride's three-pointer for the Lynx kept them in the game at 43-30, but Rebecca Allen of the Sun had the last word, knocking down yet another three-pointer. The Sun led 46-32 at halftime, having made an impressive nine threes.
The Sun's suffocating defense continued into the third quarter. Dorka of the Lynx managed to secure an offensive rebound and put it back for her team, but the Sun still maintained a comfortable lead at 49-34. Tiffany Hayes of the Sun displayed her playmaking skills with a nice pass to Alyssa Thomas for an easy two points. Rebecca Allen's sharpshooting continued as she banged in another three-pointer, pushing the Sun's lead to 59-38. The Lynx's Collier and Rachel Banham hit shots to narrow the gap to 59-43, prompting a timeout with 4:13 left in the third quarter.
Out of the timeout, Deanna Bonner of the Sun added to their lead with a bucket, making it 61-43. The Sun's Ty Harris wasn't done, as she hit another three-pointer, extending their lead to 64-45. The Lynx's Kayla McBride and Collier added some points to their tally, but the Sun secured a 67-50 lead at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Sun's defense was impenetrable, allowing the Lynx to score only eight points. The Sun's remarkable three-point shooting and unwavering defense led them to a resounding 90-60 victory. Post-game, Sun’s Ty Harris emphasized their defensive focus, while Rebecca Allen spoke of the team's relentless spirit. Coach Stephanie White acknowledged the gritty defensive performance and the resilience of her team and how they are locked in. Minnesota Lynx’s Coach Cheryl Reeve in post-game “We had hard times before, we got smacked before, we get up”. With a spectacular start in the playoffs, the Connecticut Sun showcased their defensive prowess and three-point shooting, setting the stage for an exciting series against the Minnesota Lynx. Get ready for game 2 Sunday September 17th, 2023, at 1pm on ESPN.