Uncasville, CT -- A rare solar eclipse of the sun, is not only happening over the United States on Monday, but also one occurred on the court last night when the previously red-hot Sun fell to the New York Liberty, 82-70.
What made this matchup so pivotal?
Well, the Connecticut Sun had been bringing the heat the second half of their season, winning 12 of their last 14 games, which included eight straight victories at home, and clinching an early playoff berth. New York came to Connecticut on a high from not only winning three games in a row, but also their most recent triumph where they defeated the reigning 2016 WNBA champions, the Los Angeles Sparks, on their home court in a strong, decisive conquest, 83-69.
What could stop Connecticut? As fate would have it, the team’s last loss was when they fell to the Liberty on July 19 at Madison Square Garden, and tonight’s downfall felt like déjà vu for the Sun.
That’s right. The New York Liberty did what no one has been able to do for the last eight games at Mohegan Sun by defeating Connecticut and snapping their eight game winning streak at home.
Initially, the first quarter was tightly contested. The Sun made strong efforts to play close defense on the Liberty’s Tina Charles, but to no avail. Bria Hartley put in work early as well to carry New York offensively as she scored five points in the first quarter, however, the Sun turned up its intensity a notch to pulled away at the end of the opening frame, 22-17.
The Liberty came back on a mission early in the second period, when they quickly closed the deficit and took the lead 25-24. The Sun wasn't having it and briefly tied the game.
This set the tempo for the back-and-forth that would transpire for the remainder of the quarter — until the Liberty changed the trend and maintained a lead. It became the Tina Charles show, as she dominated by dropping 18-points in the first half to carry New York’s lead over the Sun, 44-41.
“We kept attacking, but in the first half we turned the ball over too much and that got them back in the game,” stated New York Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. “There was a stretch there in the second quarter where we turned it over and gave them a couple second shots and it got them momentum. We came out in the second half with the same mind set of executing and get the job done and it worked for us.”
New York didn’t stop their first half attack mode, as a matter of fact, they came out even stronger in the third period. The Sun’s confidence seemed to be shaken, as the Liberty took the lead by 10-points with less than five minutes to go in the quarter.
Momentum almost began to shift in favor of the Liberty, but then, Alex Bentley made a much-needed three-pointer to give Connecticut life again. Jasmine Thomas followed suit by knocking in two free-throws to not only reach 2,000 career points, but also help the Sun to close the gap. By the end of the third stanza, the Liberty now only led by four, 60-56.
A fight to the finish emerged in the fourth. Sugar Rodgers got after it, going from zero-points at the half, to finishing with 13-points total. Her strong offensive energy, plus the combination of Lindsay Allen and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe down the stretch, ultimately placed — and kept — the Liberty ahead. At one point, New York was up by as many as 17, looked in complete control of the game.
“We just couldn’t you know find our rhythm tonight,” stated Jasmine Thomas. “Even when it looked like we were getting close we couldn’t get over that hump, couldn’t tie it up, couldn’t take the lead so it happens sometimes. We have to show we are a good enough team to bounce back on Sunday and get a win on our floor.”
Connecticut Head Coach Curt Miller conveyed he was disappointed in the loss, but stated that it was a game that would benefit the Sun in the long run. “That game took on a playoff feel and the physicality that we knew was going to be in this game,” expressed Miller. “The intensity each and every possession in this game would simulate as best as we could possibly have for a playoff game.”
As for what’s next, the Connecticut Sun host the Phoenix Mercury at home on Sunday, Aug. 20. The New York Liberty also will play Sunday at home against the Minnesota Lynx.
The Connecticut Sun hot-streak was snapped, as they fell to the New York Liberty tonight.Posted by Swish Appeal on Friday, August 18, 2017