Improving Sun visit Stars (Jul 4, 2017)

BY AP • July 4, 2017

Connecticut finally found its stride the last time it played the San Antonio Stars. Now it's up to the Sun to keep that momentum when the teams square off Wednesday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The first 2 1/2 months of the 2017 campaign have identified three teams -- Minnesota, Los Angeles and Washington -- that are head and shoulders above the rest of the league, and two -- Chicago and San Antonio -- that are at the bottom of the pack.

The Sun (8-7) are fifth overall in the WNBA standings, in the midst of a seven-team pack that is at .500 or one game above or below. Connecticut's run of seven wins in nine games started when it last played and won at San Antonio on June 3.

Connecticut won its second straight when Jonquel Jones paced the Sun with 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 91-85 victory at Indiana on Saturday. Jasmine Thomas added 22 points, and Alyssa Thomas poured in 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"It was a great game -- I think the two of us (Indiana and Connecticut) are going to be scratching and clawing on for the playoffs," Sun coach Curt Miller said. "I coached tonight like it was a playoff game. You know how, early in the season, how big this game could be."

The performances of Jones and the two Thomases have fueled Connecticut's turnaround from a team that lost five of its first six games to one that has lost twice since.

Jones leads Connecticut this season in scoring (16.1 points per game) and rebounding (WNBA-best 12.1). Her showing against Indiana was her fourth straight double-double and ninth of the season. It was her eighth straight game scoring in double figures.

Jasmine Thomas is second on the team in scoring (15.4) and in assists (5.1), while Alyssa Thomas ranks first in assists (5.1), second in rebounding (6.0) and third in scoring (13.9). Her 71 assists for the season already have surpassed her previous career high of 70, set in 2016.

The Stars (1-14) are still at the bottom of the WNBA standings, but at least they have a win -- an 89-82 verdict over Chicago on Friday.

San Antonio ended a 16-game losing streak that extended into the 2016 season. The Stars also stopped their home losing skid at 13 games, which set a dubious WNBA record.

Isabelle Harrison paced the Stars with 22 points and 10 rebounds against Chicago, while Moriah Jefferson had 13 points, Alex Montgomery added 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, Kayla McBride scored 11 and Dearica Hamby tallied 10 for San Antonio.

"It's great to get our first win, just for this young team to know that they can play this game," Stars coach Vickie Johnson said. "We have to play like this every game. They did an excellent job executing the game plan, sharing the ball. I'm so proud of them."

McBride leads San Antonio in scoring (15.3), is second in assists (2.2) and third in rebounding (4.5). Harrison is second on the Stars in scoring (11.3) and rebounding (5.6), while Jefferson leads the team in assists (4.7) and ranks third in scoring (11.2).

"There's a lot of pressure losing so many games in a row, so I think that first (win) is a big relief," said Jefferson, the former University of Connecticut star who rarely lost as a collegiate player. "Now, we just have to keep going up from here."



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