Lawson, Charles lead Sun in 77-70 win over Mystics
After struggling on the road last season, the Connecticut Sun are thriving away from home this year.
Kara Lawson scored 17 points and Tina Charles had 16 as Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut beat the last-place Washington Mystics 77-70 on Tuesday for their third straight win.
Tan White added 11 points to help the Sun (13-4) improved to a league-best 7-1 on the road after going 6-11 a year ago. Connecticut has won all three meetings with Washington this season including two on the road and the last seven overall.
''A year ago we won six games (on the road) all year. Now I think our team is relishing being a good road team,'' Sun coach Mike Thibault said. ''It's paid off in winning close games like this, every one but one.''
In this one, the Sun overcame a mid-game scoring drought and a sizeable rebounding deficit by shooting 7 for 13 (54 percent) on 3-pointers, led by Lawson's 3-for-5 effort. After letting a 14-point first quarter lead slip away, the Sun took the lead for good as White made two 3-pointers during a 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters.
''We had a great stretch there in the third quarter that spread it out, beginning the fourth,'' Lawson said. ''Tan hit some shots for us. When things weren't going right for us offensively, we were able to string together some buckets and get some stops. It was a good win for us.''
Crystal Langhorne scored 15 points and Michelle Snow had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Mystics (3-13). Matee Ajavon added 13 points, Monique Currie had 12 and Noelle Quinn 10 for the Mystics.
Washington finished with a 38-23 rebounding edge, including 15-3 on offensive boards, but has lost three straight and seven of its last eight.
After trailing by 11 in the fourth quarter, the Mystics used a 12-4 run to pull to 67-64 on Currie's bank shot with 2:59 to go. However, White converted a three-point play as the Sun shot 8 for 9 on free throws in the final 2:01 to seal the win.
''I thought down the stretch when we needed to get stops we didn't,'' Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. ''We ended up putting them on the free throw line. Really, that was the difference in the game. They shot well from three, which hurt us.''
Connecticut scored seven straight points to close the third, capped by White's 3 for a 55-50 lead. After Langhorne's layup to open the fourth, White sank another shot from beyond the arc during an 8-0 surge as the Sun stretched the lead to 63-52.
The Mystics then made their final push.
Lawson is 12 of 23 (52.2 percent) from beyond the arc over her last four games.
''Our inside game draws so much attention obviously with Tina and Asjha (Jones),'' Lawson said. ''We know we're going to get open looks and we have to be ready to knock them down. We have the green light. I think that's one of the things that's easy. Our coaching staff is never like `don't take that shot, that's a bad shot'. We don't have any voices in our head when we're about to take a shot. We just let it fly.''
The Sun got off to a fast start, making 11 consecutive shots in the first quarter to take a 26-12 lead. However, they slowed dramatically after that and Washington took advantage with their work on the offensive glass, scoring 15 of the 21 second-chance points before halftime.
''We let them get some confidence back by giving them a lot of offensive boards,'' Thibault said. ''That kept them in the game.''
Ajavon made one of her three 3s to give the Mystics a 39-38 lead with 7:01 to go in the third quarter.
The teams then played close until the Sun's big run, a theme during many of the Mystics games this season.
''It gets frustrating because these teams are easily beatable,'' Ajavon said. ''It's within us to overcome an obstacle that's making us not win these games. We just have to do it.''
The teams play again Wednesday night at Connecticut.