As the first two teams to be officially eliminated from playoff contention this season. The Connecticut Sun and San Antonio Stars didn't have much to play for Friday night at Freeman Coliseum. However, a 73-72 win on the road for the Sun was still a satisfying one.
Kelsey Bone sliced through the Stars' defense and hit a layup with 1.8 seconds left to play to seal the win as the Sun bounced back from an 81-51 shellacking against the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, and notched their second win in three games after a bad run of
"Kelsey is one of the strongest and best post players in this league," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "So it is hard for people to guard her."
The Sun, who were without leading scorer Alex Bentley and forward Alyssa Thomas yet again, lost eight of the past nine entering tonight's game, a torrid stretch that helped eliminate the team from playoff contention. The Stars were suffering a seven-game losing streak and sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference.
Bone scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, bringing her past the 1,000-point mark in her third season.
"It means a lot," said Bone, who now has 1,010 points for her career. "As a kid growing up in Houston, Texas, I always wanted to play in the WNBA. So to have the opportunity to be in this career and score 1,000 points in my third year it's fun for me."
The Stars' Kayla McBride also scored 17, which included nine in the first quarter. Sophia Young-Malcolm, who will retire at the end of the season, had six points in her second-to-last home game of her career. Young-Malcolm will play in front of a home crowd for the final time Saturday against the Phoenix Mercury.
"Sophia has had an incredible career," Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "She came in at a time where she has been able to come in and watch the growth of the Stars through her initial years, for 10 years now. And be a part of a very consistent playoff team. A lot of that is due to Sophia."
The Sun missed their first seven shots of the contest. However, the Stars could only manage three baskets during their opponents' cold streak, taking a 6-1 lead in the opening three minutes. Connecticut hit its first basket nearly halfway through the first quarter, and the team would soon find its stroke.
The Sun took a 14-13 lead after two free throws from Kelly Faris, but Stars forward Alex Montgomery sank a 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 16-14 at the end of the period.
The seesawing continued in the second quarter, with the Sun responding whenever the Stars would take the lead. With the game tied at 27, Valeriane Ayayi came off the bench and hit a layup and three-point shot over two offensive possessions. That would give the Stars a 35-27 lead, and they would end the half on top, 36-33.
The Stars went on a 7-0 run over two minutes to take a commanding 45-36 lead early in the third quarter. However, Connecticut would not let the Stars get much separation. A driving layup from Bone cut Connecticut's deficit to three with 2:26 left in the period, and the Sun entered the fourth quarter down, 57-53.
Connecticut would take their first lead of the half with 4:40 left to play. Jasmine Thomas' layup made it 64-63, but the Stars would respond 16 seconds later through McBride to make it 65-64. The Stars had a 70-64 lead with 3:18 left in the contest, but would only score one more basket for the remainder of the game.
McBride had a chance to win it with a 3-pointer from the right side, but her shot clanged off the front of the rim.
"I thought McBride on the very last possession had a good look at 1.8 [seconds]," Donovan said. "I had a flashback; we lost to Phoenix at the buzzer on a shot like that. So fortunately it didn't go."