UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Reserve Kelsey Griffin’s follow shot at the end of regulation forced overtime and she added a 3-pointer late in the second overtime to lead Connecticut to an 89-81 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday.
However, the Sun were eliminated from Eastern Conference playoff contention later Sunday after the Chicago Sky beat the first-place Atlanta Dream, 80-69.
Reserve Renee Montgomery made all six of her free throws in the second overtime and finished with 14 points for the Sun (12-20). Alex Bentley added 18 points and four steals and Kelsey Bone had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
”Playing hard is not an issue for our team, and we have a competitive team,” Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. ”Getting a win against a team we have not had success against is good.”
Ivory Latta had 20 points and six assists and Emma Meesseman added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Washington (15-16), which is in second place in the Eastern Conference and would have qualified for the playoffs with a win.
Connecticut led by one point in the second overtime when Griffin made an open 3-pointer to give the Sun a 79-75 lead with 2:18 left. It was just her eighth 3-pointer of the season.
The Sun led 64-53 with over 4 minutes left in regulation and trailed by two with 14.8 seconds left. Griffin had a putback at the buzzer to tie the game at 70. She finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Connecticut led by one in the second overtime when Griffin made an open 3-pointer from up top to give her team a 79-75 lead with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left. It was just her eighth 3-pointer of the season.
”I am not someone shoots a lot of shots and produce a lot of points,” Griffin said. ”I work very hard on that shot. I knew Renee was getting a lot of attention and they were daring us to shoot from the outside. I said, `why not and take the shot?’ I make it all the time in practice, why not now?”
The Sun blew an 11-point lead (64-53) with over four minutes left in regulation and trailed by two with 14.8 seconds left. Griffin had a putback at the buzzer to tie the game, 70-70, and force overtime.
”I guess it showed character when we blew a lead and still hung on for dear life,” Montgomery said.
Washington made just one field goal in the second overtime and was outscored, 14-6.
”All we had to do was on three or four different occasions was just grab the ball, whether it was a defensive rebound or a lose ball, and (Connecticut) got to them,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault said. ”Kelsey Griffin, (there) was one-tenth to go and she got an offensive rebound. They made two or three shots with the shot clock going off. I don’t think we played very well tonight and I thought they did play very well.”
The game became a battle of attrition. Washington’s Kara Lawson had to leave with over five minutes left in regulation due to a sprained ankle. The full extent of the injury isn’t known yet.
Rookie Chiney Ogwumike, the Sun’s leading scorer in rebounder, exited with over three minutes left in regulation due to nausea. She had an abscessed tooth drained last Tuesday and missed the previous two games.
Connecticut starter Katie Douglas (10 points, five rebounds) departed with over two minutes left in the second overtime due to back pain. She had lower lumbar microdiscectomy surgery last October.
”It’s disappointing,” Thibault said. ”They have Ogwumike and Douglas out at the end and we can’t get enough stops to win the game. Rebounding, turnovers and free throws is how you become a great team and we got beat in a couple of those categories tonight. They went and took it from us.”