Sun turnovers, lax defense spell defeat to ChicagoAugust 27, 2012
UNCASVILLE, CT. - The Connecticut Sun's lax defense, as well as the 17 turnovers that led to 22 points, cost the Eastern Conference leader an 82-70 loss to conference rival Chicago Sky, who snapped a 9-game losing streak with the win.
The Sun (17-6) has lost four games at home, the reverse of their troubles last season when they had problems on the road. The Sky is now 9-14 with the series tied at 1 each and a home and home pair remaining in the season, the next meeting Tuesday in Chicago.
“Obviously this is a disappointing loss, said Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault. With 11 games remaining in the regular season, “We had a chance to clinch a playoff spot,” he said, as well as a tiebreaker in the four game series.
He said the turnovers were partially responsible, as well as the Sun’s poor shooting (6 of 16 from long-range) against the Sky’s zone and the fact that his team was out hustled.
Because the Sun’s 6-4 center Tina Charles was double and triple teamed most of the game, the opponents “turned her into a passer,” which she handled adequately but the perimeter players failed to step up and take the pressure off of her, daring others, not used to those roles, to make shots.
Thibault said Asjha Jones takes a lot of pressure off Charles, but she is out with a foot injury and there’s no indication when she will be back. “Other teams are without players,” he said, including Chicago whose Olympic center Sylvia Fowles is on personal leave.
Her backup, 6-6 Carolyn Swords, who was averaging 1.6 points in an average of five minutes per game, was one of five Sky players in double figures with 14 points, several coming from the four offensive boards she pulled down.
Swords’ backup, 6-5 Ruth Riley, had six boards and six points; she had been averaging 2.5 points a game.
The Sky out rebounded the Sun 38 to 26.They shot 46.5 percent from the floor; normally they shoot 43.3 percent.
Sky Head Coach Pokey Chapman said the plan was to go to the zone early to force tough shots and turnovers. As for Charles, who she called “an animal,” the plan was “to make her feel uncomfortable.”
Said Charles: “When double and triple teams happen, we have to work on flashing out to get an open shot. When we had Asjha, she was a creator who could shoot and was a threat on offense who would ease the pressure on me. We have to work on getting better at that.
Sky forward Swin Cash, who got a warm welcome from Sun fans who remembered her UConn days, said Swords really stepped up to the challenge Charles and “got us some amazing offensive boards and she was a big presence for us with Syl being down.
The key to the victory came in the late third and early fourth quarters when the Sky went on a 17-2 run to build the lead to eight points. With 5:38 remaining in the game, the Sky had an 11-point lead. Cash led the way for Chicago with a 10-point third period, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Sun controlled the early scoring, leading by as many as nine points midway into the first quarter but the Sky kept whittling away at the lead with aggressive rebounding so they were only down a point at the end of the first 10 minutes
The Sun maintained a small edge throughout most of the second quarter, taking a 24-21 lead into the locker room.
Thibault is particularly concerned because the Sun embarks on a four-game road trip, beginning Tuesday in Chicago and ending Sept. 4 against division rival, Washington.
He said to be considered an “elite team,” you have to figure out how to overcome adversity.
“It’s very disappointing especially because it was a home game, said Sun guard Kara Lawson, who was an uncharacteristic 1 for 6 from long range. “We’re getting ready to start our longest road trip of the season and we certainly would have liked to be going on the trip with some momentum, but we’re not.
“Hopefully we can learn from it. The good thing about is we get to go right back out and play them again on Tuesday in Chicago, and we get another opportunity to get a win against them,” Lawson said.