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Sun Continue Improvement, Can They Shine Toward Playoffs?

(Photo by Karen King)

(Photo by Karen King – Double G Media)

 

The Connecticut Sun have picked up right where they left off before the WNBA took its one month hiatus for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

After a horrific 2-10 start to the WNBA season, the Sun has appeared to turn a corner, opening the second half of the season with a pair of wins sandwiched around a single loss.

In their last dozen games the Sun have registered a very respectable 7-5 record – all of this is good news for the Sun faithful who would like nothing more than to see their hometown team qualify for the postseason.

The Sun improved their season record to 10-17 with a dominating 89-62 win over the San Antonio Stars (6-20) on Aug. 30 in front of 5,291 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena. The win allowed the Sun to sweep the three-game regular season series with San Antonio.

Alex Bentley led the way for the Sun with 21 points while Teammate Jasmine Thomas chipped in with 14 points, along with six boards, six assists and four steals.

Connecticut also received excellent production from Chiney Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas who both scored 16 points. Jonquel Jones and Shekinna Stricklen added nine each as the Sun had one of their best team offensive nights of the season.

The Sun shot 49.3% from the field (including a torrid 66.7% in the first quarter) while limiting the last place Stars to just 39.0%.

Connecticut’s defensive intensity forced the Stars into 20 turnovers in the contest.

“This win keeps us in the fight (playoff spot) and that is what we wanted,” said Sun Coach Curt Miller. “Our backcourt (Bentley and Thomas) really got is going tonight.”

Bentley noted the importance of the win as the Sun has their eyes squarely focused on making the playoffs.

“We are taking it one game at a time and not trying to get too high or too low,” said Bentley. “We are concentrating on getting ready for Phoenix.”

Miller’s squad is in a dogfight for a playoff spot, with Washington (10-16) the Seattle Storm (10-16). The Sun has eight games left in the regular season to make their case for a berth in the playoffs – riding the wave of some good karma they are a solid bet to make it happen.

SUN SPOTS

The win over the Stars marked career win number 300 for Sun coach Curt Miller. Miller racked up 290 wins during his 13 years as a head coach at Bowling Green and Indiana.

Alex Bentley had a terrific shooting night against the Stars as she was 8 of 12 from the field (3 of 4 from three-point).

Chiney Ogwumike is rounding into peak form as her 16 point output marked the 10th consecutive game that the Stanford grad and 2014 WNBA Rookie of the Year has reached double figures. Ogwumike’s play is one of the top reasons for the Sun’s recent resurgence.

Sun rookie Rachel Banham is out for the season with a right knee injury. Top draft choice Morgan Tuck did not dress (DND) due to a knee issue.

DID YOU KNOW?

The LA Sparks (21-5) have hit a slump of sorts, losing four of the last five games, and now trail league-leading Minnesota (22-5) by a half-game.

The Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings is heading down the home stretch before she unties her shoelaces for the final time in her illustrious 16 year WNBA basketball career.

Recently, Catchings was honored with the Dawn Staley Award which recognizes a player who is an inspiration in her community and reflects Staley’s leadership, spirit, charitable efforts and love for the game.

HOME STRETCH

The Sun will host the red-hot Phoenix Mercury (13-14) on Sept. 2 (7 p.m.) in a must-win game for both teams.

The Mercury are led by the dynamic duo of Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.

After they face the Phoenix, the Sun will embark on a critical two-game road trip against Maya Moore and the league-leading Lynx (22-5) and Tina Charles and the New York Liberty (19-8).

 

Follow Bob on Twitter for all the Sun, WNBA news and more: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at DoubleGSports.com. He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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