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Swing and miss for the Sun

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published July 02. 2014 4:00AM
Jessica Hill/AP Photo
Connecticut's Kelsey Bone, center, squeezes between the defense of San Antonio's Sophia Young-Malcolm, back, and Kayla McBride, right.

Mohegan — There's a strong belief among some basketball coaches that a team betters its chances of winning if they run more plays.

The Connecticut Sun successfully debunked that theory Tuesday night.

Connecticut took 41 shots in the first half. It missed 27. And that included 11 layups.

Put aside the fact the Sun didn't impose their will against the San Antonio Stars and lost their third straight game 74-71 before 4,873 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Ignore Connecticut's late defensive lapses once it tied the game in the fourth quarter.

Never mind that Katie Douglas was the only Sun player to shoot free throws because they didn't use their interior size advantage to get to the line.

The Sun's offense went kaput again for long stretches on Tuesday night, which was the common denominator to them losing five of their first six games.

Cause and effect.

"Goodness," Connecticut center Kelsey Bone said about the missed layups. "That was something that got contagious for us at a point. We lost focus, and even still, we missed 11 layups and were (up) three at halftime. Then they went on a 28-point surge in the third quarter."

The box score said that the Sun (8-9) shot 42.5-percent.

It sure didn't feel like it.

"Not enough balls in the basket," Douglas said. "We missed too many layups. I think it really affected us mentally. You just saw that we were just a little shook, or rattled, by missing shots. I just feel like we played into their hands."

Douglas scored a game-high 25 and Bone had 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Alex Bentley added 10 points and five assists for Connecticut.

Stars veteran Becky Hammon blowtorched the Sun in the third quarter. She scored 12 of her team-high 18 points that period.

Danielle Robinson had 17 points, seven assists and three steals and rookie Kayla McBride scored 15 for San Antonio (9-8). It was its fifth straight road win.

The Sun, for all of their offensive troubles, managed to come back even after trailing 55-43 with 1 minute, 7 seconds left in the third quarter.

Connecticut went on a 7-0 run early in the fourth quarter. Douglas ended the run with a three-point play to cut the Stars lead to 57-52 with over six minutes left.

Douglas' driving layup and 3-pointer tied the game at 61 with 2:42 remaining.

Jayne Appel answered with a layup on the other end for the Stars.

"We gave Appel a layup that was just inexcusable," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "To me, we had a nice run going and we let her walk in there and score."

Connecticut was called for a shot clock violation on its next possession. Renee Montgomery got trapped above the 3-point line with time about to expire and had to force up a shot.

McBride made a 3-pointer on the other end to push San Antonio ahead 66-61.

"Eleven missed layups in the first half are tough to overcome, and at the same time you overcome it, you don't get lax on defense," Donovan said. "The (28) points San Antonio scored in the third quarter were a product of us thinking about missed layups and missed shots and us being completely complacent defensively."

Ogwumike feted

Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Month for the second straight time. She led all rookies with 15.7 points and eight rebounds.

n.griffen@theday.com

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