Comeback by Sun falls short

Jessica Hill/AP photo Tina Charles of the Sun reacts during the second half of Sunday's game against the Dream at Mohegan Sun Arena. Charles had 19 points and 12 rebounds but the Sun lost 78-77.

Mohegan - The Connecticut Sun gave themselves a chance to win Sunday's game and had the ball with 10.9 seconds left.

Connecticut brought the ball up to the other end, stopped. ... and froze.

Sun head coach Anne Donovan was forced to call timeout with two seconds left. Allison Hightower's 3-pointer hit the front rim with a second left, and Connecticut lost 78-77 to the Atlanta Dream before 7,557 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It was the sixth loss in seven games for Connecticut (2-6), and it wasn't due to being flat or injuries. It was due to mistakes such as those final few seconds.

"In the previous timeout, coach told us if we got the rebound she wouldn't call timeout," Hightower said. "So we pushed it in transition, and I guess we just got a little stuck; had a little brain fart."

Connecticut made 18 turnovers, including seven by Tina Charles. It also missed six of 16 free throws.

Atlanta also bullied the Sun on the boards for the majority of the game.

"We needed to control the backboards, which we didn't do all game," Griffin said. "It wasn't until the fourth quarter when we made that final push. (We) just ran out of time, but we have to be more consistent throughout the whole game."

Angel McCoughtry carried Atlanta's offense with a game-high 34 points. She was the only Dream to score in double figures.

McCoughtry set a franchise record for most field goal attempts in a game (33). Betty Lennox took 32 shots for the Dream in an overtime game against Connecticut on June 27, 2008.

Charles had 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Sun while Hightower had nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Kalana Greene had 14 points and five rebounds, and Griffin added a career-high 16 points and four rebounds.

The Sun had only eight available players. Starter Kara Lawson was scratched due to a bruised knee. Reserves Renee Montgomery (high left ankle sprain) and Tan White (broken right finger) were already nursing injuries.

"I'm hoping that nobody on this team is thinking that we have to tread water," Griffin said of dealing with the injuries.

Atlanta was without starting power forward Sancho Lyttle. She is with the Spanish national team at the EuroBasket Women 2013.

It seemed unlikely that Connecticut could win the game as it struggled through the majority of it. It trailed by as much as 15 points (61-46) with 48 seconds left in the third quarter.

Atlanta led, 73-59, with six minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the game.

The Sun stormed back and closed with an 18-5 run. Griffin scored six during that stretch and Hightower five.

Griffin's putback off of Hightower's miss tied the game, 76-76, with 58 seconds left.

Griffin was fouled on the play and made the free throw. It gave the Sun their first lead since the 6:34 mark of the first quarter.

Atlanta called timeout. McCoughtry got the inbounds on the ensuing possession and made the game-winning layup with 51.4 seconds left.

"It was a hell of a comeback," Donovan said. "I think we played with a lot of guts and determination and grit, so I can't say anything but good things about the effort and how well we played together and how hard we played. So considering where we are with our numbers, I'm pretty proud.''

n.griffen@theday.com

Allison Hightower of the Sun defends against Jasmine Thomas of the Dream in the first half of Sunday's game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Jessica Hill/AP photo Allison Hightower of the Sun defends against Jasmine Thomas of the Dream in the first half of Sunday's game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
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