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Sun's strong defence leads to Game 1 win over Liberty in WNBA semifinal

Sabrina Ionescu and DeWanna Bonner Liberty Sun Sabrina Ionescu and DeWanna Bonner - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — DeWanna Bonner scored 20 points, Rebecca Allen added 18 and the Connecticut Sun played stellar defense to beat the New York Liberty 78-63 on Sunday in the first game of their best-of-five WNBA semifinals playoff series.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in New York.

Third-seeded Connecticut lost all four games between the teams in the regular season, including getting blown out twice in New York. On Sunday, the Sun turned up their defensive effort, slowing down the second-seeded Liberty and holding them to their lowest point total of the season.

New York led by three at halftime before Connecticut went on a 16-2 run to start the third quarter. The Sun scored the first nine points during the spurt and Natisha Hiedeman hit two 3-pointers.

New York got within 53-48, but Allen — who was traded from the Liberty in the offseason to the Sun as part of the Jonquel Jones deal — hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game.

Bonner made a pull-up jumper just before the end of the third quarter to extend Connecticut's lead back to 10. She scored the first five points of the fourth to push it to 70-55 — the team's biggest lead of the game.

New York, which was led by Breanna Stewart's 19 points, couldn't get within single digits the rest of the way.

Stewart had a rough game, going 7 for 25 from the field, including missing all seven of her 3-point attempts. Jones had 14 points and 12 rebounds for New York — the 15th time that she's had a double-double this season but the first time New York has lost in one of those efforts.

The Liberty advanced to the semifinals after sweeping Washington in a hard-fought series, taking the clincher in overtime. Connecticut made it to its fifth straight semifinals by topping Minnesota in three games.

Connecticut got off to a hot start and led by nine before New York rallied and took a 40-37 lead at the half. Jones had 10 points and Ionescu for the Liberty. Allen had 12 to lead Connecticut while Alyssa Thomas had six points, five rebounds and five assists.

Thomas finished the game with eight points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.