Both the San Antonio Stars and the Connecticut Sun looked for their first win of the regular season in Thursday's matchup, but it was the Sun that would prevail.
The good news for San Antonio is the Stars still showed signs of improvement from a dismal 2-point second quarter showing in the team's preseason matchup against the Sun.
"It was anybody's game down the stretch," said Sun Head Coach Curt Miller. "I thought players stepped up for both teams off the bench and made plays. Some stars on both teams struggled to find baskets, but I loved our fight."
Additionally, Thursday's game also featured a matchup in itself: the reuniting of former UConn teammates Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.
Jefferson, who was taken second overall in the 2016 WNBA draft, produced a 10 point performance while also racking up 7 assists. However, it was Tuck's Sun that came out with a 6-point lead to start the game.
Jefferson recorded her first WNBA 3-pointer in the first to lessen the Stars' deficit to 3, as the Sun would still lead 8-5. But Connecticut's magic began to run out, and the Stars would go on a 7-2 run.
Later, the Sun's Alex Bentley would sink a 3-shot of her own, highlighting Connecticut's lethal long shot ability. The Stars' six turnovers in the first quarter accounted for 13 of the Sun's points in the first quarter, pushing Connecticut on top at 25-17 going into the second.
"The aspect that was troublesome to us was our turnovers," said Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes. "Defensively, I thought we were really solid, but you can't defend those turnovers that end up being laid in. We turned it over 15 times. Just another game that we're in it, but we're never controlling it."
San Antonio would bounce back with four unanswered before Connecticut could make a shot, and Stars young gun Haley Peters recorded four of her eight points overall within the first minutes of the second quarter.
"We know that San Antonio is a hungry team, a young team just like us," said center Kelsey Bone. "We just wanted to come in and execute better than we did in our first game and try to come in and sneak a road win in. In this league, road wins are so important."
The Stars had the chance to take their first lead after a Sun foul on Sydney Colson, but Colson would miss her first free throw, make her second and tie the game at 25 with 7 minutes left in the half.
Connecticut would then rack up five unanswered points, but again San Antonio would battle back, this time, to take their first lead with 2 minutes left in the half.
A steal-layup combo by the Sun's Jasmine Thomas would help put Connecticut up 39-36 going into halftime.
The Sun would come out of halftime shining, grinding to another 8-point lead with 7 minutes remaining in the third.
The game would come down to a stellar fourth quarter performance by the Sun to keep their lead and outlast San Antonio, despite a last quarter surge from the Stars' Kayla McBride.
Connecticut was led by Camille Little, who scored 13 points off the bench, followed by forward Alyssa Thomas, Bone and guard Jasmine Thomas, who each scored 12. Bone records her first double-double of the season with 10 rebounds, as well.
"It's nice to have Camille back to give us a veteran presence since we're so young," said Miller. "I think you saw two of the youngest teams in the league have some struggles, and at times see a lot of promising youth on the court for the future for both teams."
The Sun's first regular season game standout, guard Alex Bentley, recorded only 9 points, going 3 of 18 for a 17 percent field goal ratio.
San Antonio forward Dearica Hamby led all scorers with 16 points—three points shy of her career high—and 9 rebounds, followed by guard Kayla McBride with 13 points. McBride and Jefferson shot perfectly from the free throw line.
"A loss is a loss," Hamby said. "No matter how well someone plays, you still come out with an ‘L.' I think a lot of people; we're just trying to find our roles, and learn how to play together."