Two weeks ago, the Connecticut Sun owned the WNBA’s best record after nine games and the Indiana Fever were still looking to win for the first time this year.
But the Sun have swooned of late, losing their past four games, three of them on the road. That has created a sense of desperation for Connecticut as it squares off with the no-longer-winless Fever on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The game will be the second meeting of the year for the teams (Connecticut took the first game 86-77 at home on May 26) and the first of a home-and-home, back-to-back that concludes Tuesday in Uncasville, Conn.
Connecticut (7-5) travels north after a 75-70 loss at Atlanta on Friday. Alex Bentley scored 18 points in that game Chiney Ogwumike returned to the lineup after a knee injury forced her to miss a game in Phoenix on June 16.
Bentley also had four assists and three steals for the Sun. Ogwumike added 16 points and six rebounds, and Jasmine Thomas scored 13 points for Connecticut, which was held to its fewest points in a game this season.
The Sun committed a team-record 35 fouls that led to 41 free throw attempts and 27 points from the line for Atlanta.
“We have to figure things out slowly but surely,” Ogwumike said after the loss. “We played a good first quarter, but as the game settled in we sort of lost ourselves. It’s the little things — working harder on defense, getting the stops we need and then converting the opportunities.
“I think we have to realize that we have to take in on ourselves to separate when we can and be the team we know we are.”
Indiana (1-12) heads home after a 72-63 loss on Friday at Seattle in which it clawed back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to within six points of the lead in the final minute but could not push forward.
Candice Dupree led the Fever with 15 points, Erica Wheeler had 13 and Kelsey Mitchell added 11. Indiana shot just 34.7 percent (25 of 27) from the field, including 5 of 19 from 3-point range.
Fever coach Pokey Chatman said her team gave Seattle too many easy opportunities in transition that negated any success it had defending in the half court.
“We forced (Seattle) into 20 turnovers and made them uncomfortable in the half-court,” Chatman explained. “Our transition D was atrocious, and that was our downfall. There were some quality things we did early on, but we didn’t keep doing them. We need to find ways to sustain the things we do well.”
Indiana has lost twice after winning for the first time this season on June 16 against Atlanta.
Mitchell has scored 20 or more points four times in her rookie season but has been limited to single-digit scoring twice within the past week. She is the first Fever rookie with at least 20 points in consecutive games since 2003.