Another dismal quarter dooms Sun

Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike, left, collids with Los Angeles' Sandrine Gruda while driving to the basket during the Sun's 90-64 loss to the Sparks on Sunday.
Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike, left, collids with Los Angeles' Sandrine Gruda while driving to the basket during the Sun's 90-64 loss to the Sparks on Sunday. Jessica Hill/AP Photo

Mohegan — The word of the day for the Connecticut Sun: nightmare.

Coach Anne Donovan said "nightmare" multiple times while describing her team's worst beating of the season, 90-64, against the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It may not have been a strong enough word.

It was the seventh loss in eight games for the Sun (9-13).

"In the East, we still believe were going to be there in the end," Donovan said. "It's (Sunday) just a nightmare, and we've got to put it behind us and move on. "

Hard as this may be to believe, Connecticut trailed by just four points (44-40) with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter.

Los Angeles went on to trample the Sun that quarter, outscoring them 30-10.

Connecticut finished missing 50 of its 76 shots (34.2 percent).

"We will talk to the staff and we'll try to figure out if maybe mixing things up from a personnel standpoint will help," Donovan said.

That sounded foreboding.

"It's coaching," Donovan said. "As a staff, we have to recognize what's going on out there and if changes may or may not help us. We will continue to talk through as we always do.

"It's not foreboding. Don't read anything into it. It's the product of a game where we had a really horrible third quarter and we have to make sure we're doing everything as a staff to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Give the 6,817 fans credit for waiting until there was over five minutes left before beginning their exodus.

"It's deflating when there's like a lid on the rim," Sun rookie Chiney Ogwumike said. "(The Sparks) were rolling. The first half, we were able to run on them. The second half, they got what they wanted."

Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney's older sister, made 8 of 13 shots for 24 points with seven rebounds.

Jantel Lavender also made 8 of 13 field goals for 19 points with seven rebounds for Los Angeles (9-11). Candace Parker added 15 points and nine rebounds.

As if that wasn't enough, the Sparks also made all 23 of their free throws.

"They're a bad matchup for anybody in the league," Donovan said. "When they put Lavender into the starting lineup (at center) and put Parker permanently at the three, it's a nightmare."

Chiney Ogwumike played well offensively for Connecticut. She made 9 of 14 shots for 18 points with a team-high six rebounds.

Alex Bentley had 10 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Sun, but rookie Alyssa Thomas (10 points) was the only other Connecticut player in double figures.

Bentley made two free throws 33 seconds into the game to give the Sun a 2-0 lead.

It was their only lead of the game.

And then there was the third quarter. Los Angeles made a ludicrous 10 of 13 field goals (76.9 percent) and converted all nine free throws.

The Sun missed 16 of 21 shots (23.8 percent).

"I think when we aren't making shots and things aren't going well, we let it affect us defensively and we get passive or less aggressive," Sun veteran Katie Douglas said. "That translates into points for the opponents. I feel like it's kind of like an epidemic. When one person misses, it was very contagious today.

"When we are missing shots, we have got to have that extra sense of recognition, where we can buckle down and get stops on defense. I felt like today and a couple of other games, we let our offense dictate our defense and it just snowballed."

n.griffen@theday.com

Candace Parker of Los Angeles (3) and Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike fight for a loose ball during Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks routed the Sun 90-64.
Candace Parker of Los Angeles (3) and Connecticut's Chiney Ogwumike fight for a loose ball during Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks routed the Sun 90-64. Jessica Hill/AP Photo
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