UNCASVILLE, CT — The Connecticut Sun pulled off an improbable comeback after a 22-point deficit in the middle of the third quarter, giving the franchise a historic ending in a score of 96-92 at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night against Washington.
With the win, the Sun overcame the largest deficit in franchise history.
Ultimately, Connecticut’s defensive pressure changed the pace of the second half, as the Sun (10-7) improved to a four-game winning streak and handed the Mystics (10-8) their third straight loss. The Sun had not been effective from the three-point line all night, but scored 19 points off of turnovers.
“They missed just enough shots, we started to get some defensive rebounds, JJ (Jonquel Jones) really had a good stretch of defensive rebounds in the 4th quarter,” said the Sun’s head coach Curt Miller. “We held them to one and done and we got out and ran, we got out and started our running game.”
All five of the Sun’s starters finished in double digits, but the star of the night was Jonquel Jones. Jones, who leads the WNBA in rebounds, led the team with nine rebounds and 22 points which allowed her to score her 500th career point. Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas, one of the best duos in the league for assists, had a combined seven assists and 34 points.
“I think it was just a relentless attitude, a relentless will to come back. We were down by like 22 or 20, so I think it was just the team effort and everybody just believing that we could do it. We just chipped away at it, we played hard and were able to walk away with the win,” said Jones.
Washington guard Kristi Toliver kicked off the game, hitting her first two three-pointers, after missing 15 of her last 16 attempted triples in the last three games. The Mystics started hitting their stride early in the first quarter, as the Sun was out of position defensively, being out-rebounded 11-4, and outscored eight point, 29-21.
Connecticut started to come back, just like their rollercoaster season with a 1-4 start, when Shekinna Strickland drained a 3-pointer to tie the game for the first time after a 10-point deficit. But with four minutes left in the second period, Elena Delle Donne, former MVP and Chicago player, started to take over the game.
The Mystics showed control with a 12-0 run as Delle Donne assisted Toliver’s silencing three-pointer with eight seconds left in the first half, ending with a 15-point lead, 58-43. Delle Donne and Toliver combined for 31 out of the team’s 58 points in the first half.
Late in the third, the Sun had dug itself into a 22-point deficit, 75-53 however, before the frame ended went on a 10-0 run to close the gap. The good news for the Sun: their run didn’t let up.
The Thomas duo heated up, as Jasmine Thomas stole the ball mid-air and made a quick pass to Alyssa Thomas, who assisted Stricklen’s triple, and brought the Sun within seven points. Stricklen totaled six shots from behind the arch in the Mystics two-point win over Connecticut back on May 31 – today she had four.
Delle Donne, arguably one of the best players in the league averaging 19.3 points per game, put up 28 points and six rebounds, while virtually running the floor with Toliver until the third quarter.
“We are struggling defensively. We haven’t been able to execute and we are not getting our looks offensively. Unfortunately, you hope to learn in L.A., move forward and not let that happen again but it was the same downfall and the same crumble,” said Donne.
With Delle Donne on the bench in foul trouble, the Sun scored 11 unanswered points, and were able to tie the game for the first time since 5-3 in the first quarter.
With the game tied and less than a minute in regulation time, Delle Donne’s shot was short. The Sun’s guard Courtney Williams was sent to the foul line on the other end where she hit one of her two shots with 18 seconds on the clock to give Connecticut the lead -- the Mystics never came back.
The Sun, who have played the most away games in the league, look to extend its streak to five on the road against the Seattle Storm on July 12 at 3pm ET.