UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) It’s been two years since the Connecticut Sun have been on this kind of roll.
Kelsey Griffin scored 12 points and added nine rebounds to help Connecticut win its fourth straight game, sweeping a home-and-home set from the New York Liberty with a 76-72 victory on Sunday.
Even without top pick Chiney Ogwumike, who was back at Stanford for graduation, the Sun (6-6) had too much for the Liberty. All five starters scored in double figures for the Sun. Katie Douglas had 14 points and rookie Alyssa Thomas added 13. Alex Bentley had 12 points, snapping a streak of three-straight games she had scored 20 or more points. Connecticut last won four straight in the 2012 season.
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Cappie Pondexter had 21 points and five assists for the Liberty (3-8) and former Sun center Tina Charles added 15 points and five assists.
Connecticut trailed 27-19 with more than five minutes left in the first half when it pulled ahead. Reserve Danielle McCray scored all eight of her points during that time to help the Sun take a 38-37 halftime lead.
”What I love is that people like Kayla (Pedersen) and Kelly (Faris) and Danielle, who haven’t gotten a lot of minutes, they came off (the bench) having not played a lot in the first 10 games and just came out ready, giving us good minutes,” Connecticut head coach Anne Donovan. ”It truly is a cliche, `be ready when your number is called’, but this is a professional game, and you have to stay prepared. So even though our starters, all five of them are in double figures, much kudos to our bench. They came in and battled.”
It was the Liberty’s sixth loss in seven games. They had high expectations this season after trading Bone and Thomas, the fourth overall pick in April’s WNBA Draft, to the Sun as part of a trade to acquire Charles, an All-Star center.
”We are very frustrated, but its earned frustration,” New York coach Bill Laimbeer said. ”We don’t do the little things. We know we are not the most talented basketball team, and we also know that we if don’t have all our players playing well we are going to struggle. We also know that if we get everyone playing well we are going to be very competitive so it’s a fine line and right now we are on the bottom half of the line.”
Renee Montgomery had a layup and Douglas a three-point play to push the Sun ahead, 62-53, to start the third quarter.
New York kept cutting its deficit to four points the fourth quarter, but couldn’t close any further. It missed its final three shots in the game’s last 56.5 seconds.
”They have more of a sense of urgency as far as they come out regardless of who is on the floor,” Charles said. ”They believe in one another and have a lot of confidence.”
McCray said of the Sun, ”I really think we are trusting one another, and that is the biggest thing. We know everyone is all in and we know everyone is going to give their best.”