Sun demonstrate their cohesion in victory over Dream

The Sun's Tan White (14) drives to the basket against the defense of the Dream's Yelena Leuchanka during second-quarter action at Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night. White had 10 points and seven assists.

Mohegan - Renee Montgomery was seated at her locker in the Connecticut Sun locker room after Saturday's 96-80 win over the Atlanta Dream when teammate Sandrine Gruda walked by.

"Sister 'Drine," Montgomery shouted.

"Sister 'Ne," Gruda shouted back.

Connecticut has said repeatedly that it would take time this season to build chemistry after adding six new players.

The Sun might finally be building that cohesion if Saturday's game before 7,378 at Mohegan Sun Arena was any indication.

The game was tied, 49-49, with 5 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third quarter when Connecticut responded with a 30-15 run to go ahead, 79-64, with 5:44 remaining in the game.

The bench scored 17 of those points.

"I still think we have about 10 more games before we do that," Montgomery said of developing cohesion. "It takes so long because players have to learn how to play with each other in order to be smooth.

"You can look good at certain times, but when you know exactly where you're teammate is going to be and they know where you like to shoot it, it changes the way you play. You're more confident in your motion. You're more confident when you drive. It just really changes the dynamics of the game. Right now, we're learning each other and we're learning how to play with each other, but we're not there yet."

Tina Charles had a team-high 22 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Sun (12-8). Kara Lawson scored 18 points, Tan White had 10 points and seven assists and Asjha Jones 15 points and five rebounds.

It was the likes of Gruda, though, who helped put Connecticut ahead. She scored nine of her 14 points during that 30-15 run.

"We know where everybody else is and know we're going to hustle," Gruda said. "I know what D (DeMya Walker) is going to do when she goes baseline. Stuff like that. It's good to have this (chemistry) with each other."

Said Sun coach Mike Thibault: "I felt like we needed to play all 10 players in the first half to wear (the Dream) down. They traveled (Saturday) and got in late. I thought our energy and use of 10 players would bother them. The shots we missed in the first half went in in the second half."

Thibault has been trying to find combinations that work together. Montgomery, for instance, had started 19 games. But the last three games, Montgomery has come off the bench.

"It's tough," she said. "It's a whole different kind of role right now. It's different starting instead of coming off the bench cause you come off the bench, you need to have a change to the game. You have to add something to the game, per se. There needs to be a change in the game when you come in. Because you're playing limited minutes, you need to be very impactful with those minutes.

"It's difficult, but I'm working with it, trying to figure out what Coach T wants and play it out."

It was the third straight loss for Atlanta (14-8), which had lost Friday night at the Indiana Fever, 89-90.

The Dream flew in Saturday, and their luggage was lost. Head coach Marynell Meadors was forced to wear a team jumpsuit.

Angel McCoughtry scored a game-high 27 points for Atlanta, which had beaten Connecticut in their two previous games this season.

"They're beginning to jell," Meadors said of the difference she's seen in the Sun. "They're getting their lineups (set), their role players are coming off the bench and doing a good job for them."

Connecticut's chemistry extends off the court, too.

"We're actually going to church (this) morning," Montgomery said of her and Gruda.

Gruda smiled and said of Montgomery, "She's my sister in Christ."

Sun center Tina Charles, right, goes up for a shot over the Dream's Iziane Castro Marques during the second quarter of the Sun's 96-80 win Saturday night. Charles finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Sun center Tina Charles, right, goes up for a shot over the Dream's Iziane Castro Marques during the second quarter of the Sun's 96-80 win Saturday night. Charles finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds.


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