Another Sun flameout
Washington — The Connecticut Sun continued to skid out of control Wednesday and towards playoff oblivion as one of their recent disturbing traits came to the fore again.
Connecticut gave up 30 fourth-quarter points to the Washington Mystics and lost, 89-75, before 16,028 at the Verizon Center.
It was the ninth loss in the last 11 games for the Sun (10-15). Their loss, coupled with the New York Liberty's 66-64 win at the Los Angeles Sparks late Wednesday night, dropped Connecticut into a last-place tie with the Chicago Sky.
It was also the third time in five games that Connecticut has given up 30-or-more points in a quarter.
Wednesday's game was tied at 59 after three quarters.
Washington outscored the Sun in the fourth quarter, 30-16. Connecticut missed 10 of 15 field goals in that period.
"It was the fourth quarter, crunch time," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "It was a typical kind of grind-it-out kind of game. They take the lead, we take the lead, back and forth. And then with six minutes left they imposed their will and we didn't respond. I didn't see that same kind of focus from us like 'this is crunch time let's impose our will now' … I didn't see that same kind of determination and you have to have it. This is the time of year that every game matters."
The loss was equally damaging as second-place Washington (11-13) clinched the season series. It's won all three meetings with two more games left at Mohegan Sun Arena. The top four teams in each conference make the playoffs.
Chiney Ogwumike had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun while Alex Bentley had 15 points and nine assists. Kelsey Bone added 15 points and five rebounds.
Kelsey Griffin (ankle sprain) didn't play after starting the last two games for Connecticut.
All-Star Ivory Latta scored 23 points and Monique Currie had 17 for the second-place Mystics (11-13).
Latta and her teammates also recognize the matchup's symbolism. Thibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, was fired after 10 seasons by Connecticut in 2012.
"(Coach) never emphasizes anything like that, but as players we know this is something we need to get (for him)," Latta said.
Washington has won six of seven against the Sun since the start of the 2013 season, when Thibault joined the Mystics as coach and general manager.
"I won't lie. It's fun beating them," Thibault said. "Right now, I don't think about them necessarily. It's just one more team in our way."
Former UConn stars Stefanie Dolson (13 points) and Bria Hartley (11 points) also contributed to Washington's win.
Latta made five of seven 3-pointers, including one with 6:52 remaining during a 19-4 run that gave Washington the lead for good. Dolson scored nine in that quarter.
"I think we did a good job defensively for 35 minutes, but there was a five minute lapse within the 40 minutes of the game that really turned the game around for them and got them the win," Ogwumike said. "We can't have those lapses; we have to work through it and fight through it."
• Ogwumike will be featured during today's "Morning Express with Robin Meade" on the Headline News network during the 8 a.m. news cycle. Ogwumike grew up an avid CNN viewer and watched "Morning Express" in junior and senior high school.
• San Antonio Stars veteran Becky Hammon announced Wednesday she will retire after the season, her 16th in the WNBA.
She's the franchise's all-time leader in assists, points per game, and 3-pointers made. The 37-year-old Hammon is a six-time All-Star who ranks seventh in history in total points (5,756), second in three-point field goals made (817), fourth in assists (1,663), sixth in games played (440) and first in free-throw percentage (89.6 percent, minimum 300 attempts).
"Becky Hammon has made a lasting mark on the San Antonio Stars and the WNBA," Stars general manager and head coach Dan Hughes said in a release. "She has worked tirelessly to become the best she could be on and off the floor. She has inspired in a wonderful way. The beauty of her game has been an amazing thing to have had a front row seat for."
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