Sun pull away late, hold off Mercury
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Alex Bentley scored 22 points and Katie Douglas added 16 to help the Connecticut Sun beat the Phoenix Mercury 96-95 on Thursday night.
Chiney Ogwumike had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun (4-6).
Candice Dupree had 21 points and 10 rebounds, Diana Taurasi scored 19 points and Brittney Griner had 18 for the Mercury (6-3)
Douglas had all of Connecticut’s points during a tiebreaking 9-2 run that gave the Sun a 94-87 lead with just under 3 minutes to go.
"I give this game to Katie Douglas," Bentley said. "As our veteran, she’s been keeping us engaged and focused on getting these wins. She’s a great leader on the floor."
Connecticut signed Douglas to a free agent deal in the offseason for her shooting and veteran leadership. She spent the previous six years with the Indiana Fever after playing her first five in the league with the Sun. She missed all but four games last season due to a back injury and had surgery last October.
Douglas was shooting 30-percent before Thursday’s game.
"It was great to see her come back," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "With KT (Douglas) we knew it was going to come around."
Penny Taylor scored on a layup and Taurasi made two free throws to pull the Mercury within three with 2:15 remaining.
Alyssa Thomas made two foul shots 14 seconds later push Connecticut’s lead back to five.
Griner and DeWanna Bonner made two free throws each to pull within one in the final minute, but Griner and Candice Dupree each missed a field goal in the final 5 seconds.
"It probably should not have come down to that," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "Give credit to Connecticut. In preparation, I was like, `this team is dangerous’. This is a dangerous team because they have so many scorers out there.
Mistie Bass added 15 points for the Mercury.
Connecticut shot 10 for 13 on 3-pointers. Renee Montgomery made one from just past halfcourt to end the first half. Bentley ended the third quarter with another.
"They made two 3s at the end of a half and a quarter, and 10 for 13 (from 3-point range) is tough because we had them 50-30 in the paint, and had a chance to win the game in the end," Brondello said. "It just didn’t fall our way today."
The Mercury erased two seven-point deficits in the second half, but couldn’t go ahead.
"When you score 95 points that is easy," Brondello said, "but it’s on the defensive end (where we struggled), and usually that is where we have been so good this year. (The Sun) are so aggressive with all the individual talents and they were on tonight, so it was hard to stop everyone, but we’ll learn from that and move forward."