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Injuries rain on Sun's season -- but brighter days are ahead

The Connecticut Sun wrapped up their season on a high note, beating the Chicago Sky, 86-75. The Sun experienced many highs and lows throughout the year, mainly because of injuries. The opportunity those injuries gave other players will certainly impact the youngest team in the league moving forward.

Chris Poss

Uncasville, CT -- The 2015 season for the Connecticut Sun was the definition of a roller coaster-type season. The highs were really high, like the Sun leading the Eastern Conference one month into the season. The lows, however, were too much to overcome as the Sun will miss the playoffs for the third straight year.

The Connecticut Sun wrapped up their regular season with a win against the playoff-bound Chicago Sky Sunday afternoon, 86-75. With the win, the Sun are one of three teams to have a winning record against the second-seeded Sky.

Kelsey Bone really stepped up her play in the last month, finishing off the season with a career-high 31 points in the team's final game. Sun Head Coach Anne Donovan noticed Bone's improved play came as she got more opportunities on the court.

"I think a big part of that is minutes," Donovan said. "Our need with Elizabeth (Williams) out, there wasn't the same rest time for (Bone) playing with Kayla (Pederson) and Camille (Little). So I think some of it is because she is out there for longer minutes. We got to see more, and she knows we relied on her more with Alex Bentley gone."

Williams and Bentley both missed time this season with injuries. Connecticut was already without Chiney Ogwumike, who missed the entire season with a knee injury. Bentley was just one of the Sun players who could be seen jumping off the bench, cheering her teammates on.

"I'm just having fun out there," Bentley says. "My teammates were playing hard and going at it. I wish I could be out there trying to help them, but unfortunately myself, Elizabeth (Williams) and Chiney (Ogwumike) couldn't, so we are going to cheer as loud as we could, making sure we continue to motivate and encourage (our teammates)."

Due to the injuries, it seemed, at times, like Connecticut had more players in street clothes than available as substitutes. Despite all that, this team showed it was good enough to compete every night.

"We were still in games," Bone said. "We were still able to compete at a high level. I think a lot of times, we got caught up on (the injuries). I think we went through a stretch where we hung our heads and lost games because of it. Even with the injuries we had before the season, and the injuries we suffered during the season, I felt we were still good enough."

The Sun seemed to be affected most by those injuries during their two losing streaks of at least six games. While the season clearly did not unfold the way many of the players would have liked, Bentley described this season in one word: fight.

"That's all that we did, all season long," Bentley said. "We went through ups and downs, pretty much a roller coaster type of season, but we fought throughout every game, and I'm proud of my teammates for fighting throughout it all. Opportunities came knocking for a lot of players down the stretch, so that's awesome to see people stepping up."

Connecticut is the youngest team in the league, and those young players got opportunities to get on the court to get better. The Sun are determined to turn the potential this team has into more wins next season.

"I think looking forward, you saw a lot of people have to grow up, including myself," Bone said. "You saw a lot of roles change, you saw things reverse and you saw some opportunities for people that might not have had opportunities otherwise. So the potential is a word that's been thrown around a lot in this locker room, but I'm tired of hearing it. It's time for us to win, put some pieces together and figure this thing out."