Sun hold on to defeat MysticsJune 4, 2012
UNCASVILLE, CT. – Maintaining fourth quarter leads has been the Achilles’ heel of the Connecticut Sun.
It cost them countess road games in the past two seasons and contributed to their first round loss to the Atlanta Dream in the 2011 WNBA playoffs.
It could have been costly again Sunday when the Washington Mystics dropped 36 points on them (one more than the visitors’ entire first half total), but the Sun (4-1), among the league leaders in free-throw shooting, made 14-straight shots down the stretch and Kara Lawson hit a pair of threes to put the game away 94-86. Overall Connecticut was 26 of 31 from the line.
“It felt good to play good in these late game situations,” said Sun head coach Mike Thibault. He added that the Mystics forced his team, “to learn about handling presses, fouls, three point heaves (three in the final 2 minutes); all those things, and we survived them.”
Three-point heaves were among the shots that allowed the Mystics (1-4) to get back into the game after the Sun built a 13-point lead in the third quarter and led by nine entering the fourth. Lawson said by the fourth quarter both teams were a fatigued which resulted in less defensive pressure on the shooters.
But it was Sun center Tina Charles who deserves credit for the win. The 6-4 center had her best game of the season scoring the basketball with 30 points on 13-of-22 from the floor.
“We were more persistent about getting the ball inside,” Thibault said, referring to Friday’s loss to the Minnesota Lynx when Charles took only 16 shots.
Charles said she knows her role on the team and credited her teammates for looking for her on offense,
The win puts the Sun at 3-0 in the Eastern Conference. Thibault said the Mystics record doesn’t reflect their quality and he expects they will “make life miserable” for teams in the league as the season wears on.
They made life miserable for the Sun during prolonged periods in the game, especially during the second quarter holding them to 11 points.
“I thought our brains finally turned on offensively in the third quarter," Thibault said. Charles had 14 points and Asjha Jones had 8 of her 10 when during the period taking advantage of when the defense collapsed on the Sun center.
Mystics Head Coach Trudy Lacey said third-quarter mental lapses cost her team the win but she praised her players for fighting back and not giving in up to the final second.
The Mystics leading scorer, Monique Currie, was held scoreless in the second half, as the Sun was collapsed on her and made it difficult for her to drive to the basket.
Washington’s only win is against the hapless Tulsa Shock but they have played some of the better squads tough, losing by only two points to both Minnesota and Chicago.
“We can play with anybody in the league, we just have to close out games," said Lacey. “That’s just about confidence and executing down the stretch, and that’s just where we have to get better.”
The Sun get a break in their schedule until Friday, when they hit the road first in Indiana, and then they move on to Atlanta for a June 10th meeting against the Dream.