Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sun fall to Washington

Here's a copy of the combined staff and wire report on the Connecticut Sun's Sunday.

Here some notable things to know:
(1) The Sun have lost a season-high three straight and four of their last five. Sunday also marked their fourth straight road loss.
(2) Lindsay Whalen played on a different level, matching a career high and franchise record with 33 points. She also tied a franchise record for made free throws with 13. But she was pretty much alone. Asjha Jones scored six points, Tamika Whitmore had five and Barbara Turner netted four. Amber Holt (10 points) was the only other Sun player in double figures.
(3) The Sun are still in a shooting rut: They hit 20-of-60 from the field and missed 19-of-22 3s. They made 6-of-28 last game and 2-of-17 3s the game before that.

Here's the story:

Staff and wire reports
Norwich Bulletin

— Lindsay Whalen took the Connecticut Sun upon her back and carried them back to within a point of the Washington Mystics on Sunday at the Verizon Center.
Yet, Whalen can’t do it alone.

Whalen tied a career high and franchise record for points in regulation with 33, shouldering the offensive load herself during long stretches, but the Mystics, leading by as many 14 points, held on to send Connecticut to a 69-64 loss, the Sun’s third straight and fourth in five games.

Whalen made 9-of-17 shots and tied the franchise record with 13 made free throws, a mark set by in August 2003 by Nykesha Sales. Whalen added team highs of eight rebounds and six assists, but she was largely on an island.

Outside of Amber Holt (10 points), no other Sun player scored more than six points. Moved to a reserve role for the first time this year, Tamika Whitmore’s struggles continued, as she netted five points on 2-of-10 shooting, as did those of Barbara Turner (four points). Both are dealing with back troubles.

Asjha Jones came into the game as Connecticut’s leading scorer (16.9 points) and was riding a streak of 14 consecutive games in double figures. But Jones was limited, too, scoring six points before being assessed a technical with 25 seconds left in the game.

Nikki Blue scored a career-high 13 points, including two key free throws in the final minute to lift Washington (8-12), which won despite making only two baskets in the fourth quarter. It was enough against the Sun (13-8), who shot 33.3 percent (20-for-60) and missed 19-of-22 3-pointers.

“That was ugly,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “We have to get more people to step up and make open shots. I don’t know how to cure people missing open shots, other than slowing down and (getting) repetition and believing every shot is going to go win.

“(But) as a group we’re not making shots right now,” he later added. “When your point guard has half your points, it’s not a good thing."

Washington played much of the second half without leading scorer Alana Beard, who missed about 11 minutes after the break due to a contusion above her right eye in the third quarter. She also hyperextended her knee 14 seconds into the fourth.

Beard returned with 4:35 left and then combined with Blue to make a few crucial plays that the Mystics needed after Connecticut cut a 14-point fourth-quarter lead down in the final minutes.

Beard, who finished with nine points, hit a 17-foot shot that gave Washington a 65-62 lead with 37 seconds left, her only second-half basket and the Mystics’ only bucket in the final 9:28. Blue then made two free throws with 17.8 seconds remaining to close the scoring.

“We’re kind of searching for answers (with) three (losses) in a row,” said Whalen, whose 10 free throws in a half also tied a franchise mark. “There are ups and downs, and we just have to get through the tough times and get back to playing if not as well then better than we were earlier in the year. We’re working hard and everybody is trying.”

Washington got 32 points in the paint, while the Sun stuck to shooting long jumpers and had just 18.
Sandrine Gruda started in place of Whitmore, scoring four points in 15 minutes.

“We have to know that Connecticut is the best team in the East and we can play with them,” said Washington forward and former Sun player Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We beat L.A., the best team in the west. So what’s left for us is to build on that. There should be no other team that should beat us. We have to do it every time.”

The Sun return home today to prepare for Tuesday’s game with the New York Liberty at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m., ESPN2). Connecticut has taken both matchups with New York this season, including an 89-84 win at home June 30.

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