Hot Sun resume season against Sky (Jul 25, 2017)
In late May, the Connecticut Sun were off to an 0-4 start and expected to struggle through a rebuilding year after losing star Chiney Ogwumike for the season.
Then the Sun went into Chicago and defeated the Sky 97-79.
Little did anyone know that the victory would be the start of something.
The Sun lost their next time out to fall to 1-5 but went on an 11-4 run leading to the All-Star break that included two five-game winning streaks -- and they are now tied for third place in the WNBA at 12-9.
On Tuesday night, with the All-Stars back for both teams, the Sun and the Sky meet at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
In the first meeting, Jonquel Jones scored 22 points and grabbed 21 rebounds; Alyssa Thomas had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists; and Lynetta Kizer scored a season-high 16 points and hauled down seven rebounds for the Sun.
For the Sky, Tamera Young scored 17 points, Allie Quigley added 13 points, and Cappie Pondexter flirted with a double-double with 11 points and a game-high nine assists. Cheyenne Parker added 11 points and five rebounds, and Jessica Breland contributed eight points, five rebounds and six blocked shots off the bench.
Having turned things around, the Sun (12-9) hit the All-Star break after a loss to the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden. The Sun really couldn't get things going, surrendering 96 points to a hot-shooting Liberty in a game that began at 11 a.m.
"I thought they set the tone. They were very aggressive," Sun coach Curt Miller said. "Their commitment, as they stated all season, was to push it up and down and push tempo. They hurt us in transition.
"Our percentage of offensive rebounds was really bad. Tina (Charles of the Liberty) was really aggressive, a handful early. Hats off, they were the aggressor, and they really dominated areas of the game."
Jones was one of the standouts during the WNBA All-Star game on Saturday. The 6-foot-6 center finished with 24 points, including a dunk, and nine rebounds.
"I think she's a fantastic player," said Charles, who started on the front line with Jones for the East team. "With everything she's been able to do for the Connecticut Sun and her being in her second year, finding her niche in this league, you don't really see that happen that fast.
"It's going to inspire a lot of young players when they get into the league and are thinking of when they are going to turn the corner. They can look to someone like Jonquel Jones."
The Sun, who have lost two of their last three games, now face a team fighting for a playoff spot. The Sky (8-13) hit the break by handing the Los Angeles Sparks their first home loss of the season, 82-80. That left Chicago 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.
Quigley finished the first half of the season by winning the 3-point shooting contest during the All-Star festivities. The 31-year-old veteran also scored 14 points in her first WNBA All-Star Game.
She is among the league leaders with 47 3-pointers this season and is shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
"Thinking back, I never dreamed that this would happen," Quigley told WNBA.com. "So it just makes you think about the beginning, what used to be and what is now. I'm very blessed to be able to be here."