Sun come undone in overtime

Renee Montgomery of the Sun, left, and Sue Bird of the Storm - both former UConn stars - battle for the ball in the first half of Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Renee Montgomery of the Sun, left, and Sue Bird of the Storm - both former UConn stars - battle for the ball in the first half of Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Jessica Hill/AP Photo

Mohegan - They were introduced to the crowd of 9,201 at Mohegan Sun Arena as the "first-place Connecticut Sun," the best evidence of an encouraging season to date.

And while Sunday's outcome didn't affect the Sun's perch, it indicated that Connecticut's bouts with immaturity remain a legitimate concern.

The Seattle Storm, 24 hours removed from an 18-point loss at New York, exposed what Sun coach Mike Thibault called his team's "shortcuts," and handed the Sun an 89-83 loss in overtime.

The Sun (10-4) watched their lead in the Eastern Conference shrink to 1.5 games over Chicago and Indiana, while the Storm (7-8) have successfully rebounded from a 1-7 start.

Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, the Sun's starting frontcourt bound for the Olympic team, shot a combined 10-for-38, while their counterparts combined for 60 of Seattle's 89 points.

"We compete. We're champions. We're don't give in. We have a lot of championship players in (our locker room)," Seattle coach Brian Agler said.

Perhaps it was Seattle's veteran resolve that helped the Storm torture the Sun at times, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Seattle's last four baskets of regulation:

• Tina Thompson's layup as the Storm inbounded the ball with two seconds left on the shot clock.

• Camille Little's layup as the Storm inbounded the ball with one second left on the shot clock.

• Thompson's three-pointer, out of a timeout after the Sun had taken a 74-71 lead, during which she was left yawningly open.

• Little's putback with 1:20 left after a failed boxout that gave the Storm a 76-74 lead.

"I saw us go to sleep," Thibault said. "We just got outplayed. A lot of individual matchups they won. We were a step behind in some areas defensively and it cost us."

The Sun still had a chance to win in regulation. Sue Bird missed two free throws with 13.6 seconds left, keeping the game tied at 76. Jones missed a 17-footer at the end of regulation.

Katie Smith made her only field goal of the game, a three-pointer with 2:51 left in overtime, giving the Storm the lead for good. Connecticut made one field goal in overtime.

"I think we're better than we were a year ago in terms of executing under pressure, but we're not where we need to be," Sun guard Kara Lawson said. "That's a team that even though they're under .500, when the game slows down and execution gets paramount, they know what to do.

"They might not have the gaudy regular season stats. But they're built for the playoffs because the game slows down. It's not up and down. It's like the last 3 minutes and overtime: grind it out and execute. That's where we need to get better. And we can."

Lawson led the Sun with 22 points.

Little had 27 on 10-for-13 shooting to lead Seattle and Thompson had 20. Reserve forward Ewelina Kobryn scored 13 points, including two free throws at the very end of the first period, after Danielle McCray fouled her with .2 seconds remaining.

Allison Hightower, who tied the game with 34 seconds left in regulation, had 16 for the Sun, while Jones had 15 and Charles had 13.

"We tried to not let her catch the ball in certain spots," Agler said of Charles. "She's an MVP caliber player. Some of it was she just had a bad night. Some of it we just played hard and didn't make it easy on her. There wasn't much strategy put into it. Congest and not let her play one on one."

Charles said, "I've faced double teams all my life. It wasn't anything different."

Charles has shot 18-for-57 from the field in the last four games (32 percent), averaging 11.5 points.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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