Uncasville, CT — The Connecticut Sun proved that one star can shine much brighter than several stars in its 89-62 victory over the San Antonia Stars this evening at Mohegan Sun Arena.
A dominating first quarter for the Sun gave them the early 28-9 lead they were looking for. After coming off a 73-87 loss to the Atlanta Dream, a change in pace was necessary as the playoffs begin approaching.
“Obviously this is a big bounce back win after a flat performance in Atlanta,” Miller said. “I thought our focus and our preparation was better and I am proud of the team for that. This win keeps us in the fight and that is what we wanted.
“I thought a lot of people played really well and hard but our back court got us going tonight. I thought Jas (Thomas) played really well.”
Alex Bentley sure came out hungry for some buckets after she started the game with back-to-back three-pointers to give her team the 6-0 lead over the Stars, but it didn’t end there. Chiney Ogwumike and Alyssa Thomas decided to hop on the Bentley bandwagon and add to their teams lead, contributing to Connecticut’s 13-0 run near the end of the first quarter.
Additional points by Thomas and Jonquel Jones helped the Sun secure its 28-9 lead at the end of the first, which is the fewest points by an appointment in a quarter this season. Astou Ndour led the Stars in the first quarter with four of the team’s nine points.
Offensively, San Antonio came out much more aggressive in the second quarter. The Stars went from scoring nine points in the first quarter, to scoring 16 points in the second quarter.
However, this cluster of stars wasn’t going to outshine the Sun, especially in their own arena. When the Stars attempted to gain the slightest bit of momentum, Connecticut’s Thomas hit a buzzer beater to give whatever energy was left back to the Sun.
The Sun ended the first half shooting nearly 60 percent while the Stars ended shooting 30 percent. Alex Bentley and Jasmine Thomas were Connecticut’s outliers in the first half with 15 and 12 points respectively. San Antonio’s first-half points were dispersed pretty evenly among the team while Jayne Appel-Marinelli and Moriah Jefferson both led with five.
Connecticut was on a roll that just couldn’t be stopped. The third quarter was no different from the first half as they continued to control both ends of the court.
The Stars were able to scrounge up 14 more points, but it couldn’t compare to the Sun’s 23 additional points in the third. The short-handed San Antonio team just wasn’t equipped for a comeback, as Connecticut gained its biggest lead of the game after a buzzer-beater, three-point shot by Shekinna Stricklen to add to her team’s 72-39 lead.
The fourth quarter? It was no different. Connecticut dominated the final quarter just as they did the entire game. Stomping feet and a hanging head by Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes pretty much described the way this San Antonio team performed tonight.
The once 3-13 Connecticut team is now on a playoff run with a 10-17 record after defeating the Stars, 89-62. Bentley led the Sun to the team’s first 26-point victory with 21 points, while Ogwumike and Thomas contributed with 16 points and Jones with 14.
Sun Head Coach Curt Miller picked up his 300th win after having defeated the now 6-20 Stars at Mohegan Sun Arena this evening and said he’s excited about the way his team came out tonight.
“She seems motivated every time she plays against Moriah (Jefferson) and she really got us going,” said Miller. “Alex (Bentley) was efficient tonight and really gave us a spark making some threes. After a night we thought our back court got outplayed in Atlanta, they really stepped up to the challenge and I am proud of the way they got us started.”
Alex Bentley talked about her 21-point performance and said it wouldn’t have been possible without her team.
“My teammates are working for me always,” Bentley said. “I credit them for getting me open looks, setting great screens and making good passes and Curt (Miller) getting me the ball in good spots.”
On the other hand, San Antonio’s Head Coach Dan Hughes talked about his team’s inability to bounce back and recover from a rocky start.
“I thought early defensively we just had some real troubles and I thought (Alex) Bentley really made shots early and if you get a shot maker like that confident it’s really hard,” Hughes said.
“They are a talented group, you better be playing good defense because they have the ability and physically with us being beat up a little bit, they are a physical team and we had a hard team dealing with that.”