Sun have their cake and eat it, too

Allison Hightower of the Connecticut Sun, left, collides with Matee Ajavon of the Washington Mystics as the two go for the ball during Wednesday night's game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The first-place Sun won 85-73 in their final home game before sending team members Asjha Jones and Tina Charles off to the Olympics.

Mohegan - It was after the game ended that the feature presentation began Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Connecticut Sun, which already earned their fourth straight victory, celebrated their two U.S. Olympians, Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, with a basketball-themed cake big enough to have its own four-wheel drive.

The sinful, two-layered, chocolate masterpiece was the centerpiece of an on-court postgame celebration, following the Sun's 85-73 win over Washington. Most of the 7,804 fans remained to salute Jones and Charles, all to the tunes of Springsteen and "Born In The USA" as the backdrop.

Jones and Charles were fitting honorees, too. Jones scored 22 points and had nine rebounds, while Charles finished with 17 and seven as the Sun played their final home game before the Olympic break and won their fourth straight.

"We're going to bring home gold," Charles told the fans, later adding that she's "looking forward to spending her break with Asjha Jones."

Jones, who avoids the spotlight nearly as much as it eludes her, was awash in it this time.

"It was nice for her and I think she appreciated being recognized publicly for it," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "She hasn't really said it out loud too much, but making the Olympic team meant a lot to her. Partly as a validation and part of wanting to be part of something that's really special. I want her to go through that experience and get the recognition."

Then Thibault paused briefly and said, "We have a pretty special player. You know how much I admire her. She's a true pro every day."

Teammate Renee Montgomery, who followed Jones a few years later at UConn, said, "in a lot of different situations you need to know how to handle things. She brings that to us. Calmly. It helps that someone has been there and done that. And she brings a really good jump shot to us, too."

She has that in common with guard Kara Lawson, who finished with 19 points, four assists, three steals and no turnovers. Lawson was 7-for-12 from the field, including consecutive baskets in the fourth period that iced the game.

The Sun (14-4), who lead Indiana by three games in the Eastern Conference, had a 14-point lead early in the third period before the Mystics (3-14) rallied within four. But the Sun used a 13-4 run and weren't threatened again.

They shot 48 percent from the field and made all 10 free throws.

Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 19 points. Michelle Snow, 6-for-6 from the field, had 12 points and Matee Ajavon had 11.

The Sun play their fifth game in eight days on Friday in Chicago to end the nominal first half of the season. Jones and Charles will fly after the game to Washington for the first gathering of the Olympic team, which will play an exhibition game Monday night at Verizon Center.

The Sun resume Aug. 16 at New York and return home Aug. 18, also against the Liberty.

m.dimauro@theday.com

Connecticut's Asjha Jones, left, and Tina Charles, right, represented themselves well in the Sun's 85-73 victory Wednesday night over the Washington Mystics. Jones had 22 points and nine rebounds and Charles had 17 and seven. After the game, the pair were celebrated as the franchise's two representatives to the U.S. Olympic Team.
Connecticut's Asjha Jones, left, and Tina Charles, right, represented themselves well in the Sun's 85-73 victory Wednesday night over the Washington Mystics. Jones had 22 points and nine rebounds and Charles had 17 and seven. After the game, the pair were celebrated as the franchise's two representatives to the U.S. Olympic Team.
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