Mistie Bass has not started a game all season for the Connecticut Sun. Entering Sunday, the most points she had scored in a game in 2013 was eight, and the most minutes she had played was 20.
But on Sunday, the former Duke standout was on the floor for over 21 minutes and scored 12 points, playing a key role in Connecticut's 86-84 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Bass was not only impressive on the offensive end of the floor. It took her a few minutes to adjust to the game, but Bass slowed down San Antonio's bigs on the defensive end of the court as well. Silver Stars' center Jayne Appel was held to five points for the game.
"This is the second game in a row for Mistie in terms of how much of a lift she's given us," head coach Anne Donovan said. "She plays with such energy and she plays so hard all the time. When she sits on the bench, she doesn't just watch the game or wait for opportunities. She studies where she's gonna go in and where she's going to be effective. She went right in and took advantage of the pick-and-roll situation and Kara [Lawson] found her on a bunch of rolls to the basket. She always changes our transition, she helps the tempo change."
Bass was not the only one creating a spark in transition. Donovan was impressed with her team's ability to create offense out of defense, especially in the fourth quarter, when Connecticut scored 27 points in the final seven minutes to ensure their fourth win of the season. The first-year coach cited Allison Hightower's long rest in the third quarter as a reason for the Sun's ability to maintain the lead until the end of the game.
Connecticut was also aided by a stellar performance from Kara Lawson, who was in her second game back after a knee injury. Lawson scored 14 points and added six assists in the win. After starting the game on the bench, the Sun were clearly a different team with her in the game, looking much more formidable. Donovan admitted that when the Sun had the ball with 20 seconds left in a two-point game, she would have considered calling a timeout, if not for Lawson being on the floor, showing trust in her veteran.
"Kara's a perennial All-Star in this league for a reason," Donovan said. "She just knows how to control a team. She knows how to keep even keel, not get too low when we give up scores and not get too high when we get a run going. She keeps an even keel, and yet she's emotionally charged. She's our emotional leader, but she's also just steady out there. It's a big difference in both those games that she's been back."
Connecticut now embarks on a three-game road trip that to Tulsa, San Antonio and Atlanta. With Renee Montgomery and Tan White due back soon for the Sun, Donovan is starting to think about what her team can be at full strength.
"I'm excited," Donovan said, "even with Sydney Carter being here, you know those 20 minutes that Sydney could play the point and Ali [Hightower] could be in the wing was big. You could see Ali relax more. Every day we've been counting for our point guards to come back so we can get Ali to get back to what she's good at. I'll be happy when we get through this and get some bodies back and get people back to where they need to be."