Sun, Mystics battle for top spot in East

WASHINGTON — First place in the Eastern Conference will be on the line when the Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics meet for the third time this season on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

The teams, who both enter at 8-5, split their first two games. The Sun routed the Mystics, who were without leading scorer Elena Delle Donne, 88-64 in Washington on June 3. Ten days later Delle Donne was back and scored a game-high 36 points in a 95-91 Mystics road win.

Connecticut snapped a four-game losing streak with an 87-78 win over the Indiana Fever on Sunday. Reserve Rachel Banham had a career-high 20 points while Brionna Jones recorded her first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

The Sun outrebounded the Fever 37-27 and collected 12 offensive rebounds. Connecticut’s bench players combined to score more than its starting five (46-41), and outscored Indiana’s bench by 36 points (46-10).

“The bench had a really, really good night,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “Tough night for Jonquel Jones. She was in foul trouble from the beginning. Just never could get her on track, so the play of Brionna Jones was huge tonight. We moved the ball, made extra passes tonight, which we haven’t through this losing streak.”

The Sun led 62-60 entering the fourth quarter but Banham and Brionna Jones sparked a 21-8 run during the next six minutes. Courtney Williams added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Sun.

“I think it’s definitely a good win to get back on track after our little slide that we had,” Brionna Jones said. “I think this is going to give us energy that we need to move forward, especially going into a tough game with Washington.”

The Mystics will be stepping up in class after a pair of wins over the struggling Chicago Sky. On Friday night, Delle Donne scored 22 of her 30 points in the first half in the Mystics’ 93-77 victory.

Delle Donne added 10 rebounds and six assists. Kristi Tolliver scored 13 points and Monique Currie added 11 for the Mystics.

The Mystics led by as many as 23 in the first half. The Sky closed to within 80-74 with 6:36 to play but got no closer.

Washington shot 51.5 percent (34 of 66) from the field and 43.5 percent (10 of 23) from 3-point range.

On Tuesday, the Mystics beat the Sky 88-60.

The Sun lead the WNBA with 88.7 points per game and the Mystics are third with 84.5. Connecticut is tops in rebounds (37.2 per game) while Washington is 10th (31.2).

Washington tops the league with 7.9 steals per game and is second in 3-point shooting percentage (36 percent).