Sun, Stars both looking to end losing ways (Jun 2, 2017)

BY AP • June 2, 2017

Both the San Antonio Stars and the Connecticut Sun have begun their respective 2017 WNBA seasons in an inauspicious manner, but one of the teams will gain some momentum with a rare win when they square off on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The Sun have lost five of their first six games, including a 78-76 loss to Washington on Wednesday that Connecticut could have, and likely should have, won. The Sun led by nine points midway through the fourth quarter before getting outplayed in the end game, especially in aggressiveness.

Connecticut outscored Washington by 18 points from the floor but committed 26 fouls compared to 16 for the Mystics. Washington converted 26 of its 29 chances from the foul line and Connecticut went just 6 of 11.

"It was just us fouling too much," Sun forward-guard Jonquel Jones said. "We just have to play straight-up defense without giving up too much leverage in terms of being able to shoot free throws early in the quarter."

Guard-forward Shekinna Stricklen tied a career-high with 20 points and drilled six of Connecticut's 10 3-pointers in the loss while Jones recorded her second consecutive double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Sun.

"My teammates were looking for me," Stricklen said. "I was just moving. They were setting good screens and I was just being smart, knowing they were running at me. Pump faking. I had confidence in my shot."

It was the third two-point loss of the season for Connecticut, but Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller called the game a step forward because of the way his team executed most of its game plan.

"Great game -- we really bothered them with what we did," Miller said. "No one made more than five baskets against us. When the game was on the line, Washington put their heads down and got calls and we didn't."

This will be the third of a three-game road trip for the Sun, which began the trip with their first win of the year in Chicago last Sunday.

While Connecticut is fighting to get back on the winning track, the Stars (0-6) are still looking for their first victory of the season.

San Antonio lost to Atlanta 77-70 on Wednesday despite a huge contribution from its reserves, which outscored the Stars' starters 45-25.

The Stars' loss dropped them to their worst start in franchise history; the 2015 team also lost its first six games. San Antonio has not won a home game since July 6, a span of 10 games over two seasons.

Forwards Monique Currie (14 points) and Dearica Hamby (13 points and eight rebounds) gave the Stars a boost off the bench. But San Antonio could not sustain the lead it built at halftime, when it held Atlanta to 36 points, the fewest points San Antonio has allowed in a first half all season.

For the second consecutive game, the Stars outshot their opponent (41 percent to 38.6 percent). San Antonio also outrebounded Atlanta 34-33 and matched the Dream in team assists with 18.

The Stars missed nine free throws and committed 22 turnovers, which Atlanta converted into 26 points

"It was more so the fourth quarter," said Stars guard Kayla McBride, who had just six points in 30 minutes. "We had too many turnovers, too many breakdowns. We let them get easy points and we couldn't make shots."


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