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Montville - The 2014 Connecticut Sun season ends today with the same kind of vibe as the last day of school.
There's almost nothing for Connecticut to accomplish today. It was eliminated from postseason contention a week ago. It will finish last in the Eastern Conference for the season straight year, regardless what it does against the first-place Atlanta Dream (1 p.m.).
Shoot. The Dream (19-14) has little to gain from today, too, as they've already clinched the top seed in the East.
No matter. The Sun have a job to do. They'll play for pride. They'll play for one another. And they'll try to send their fans home happy after another losing season … and with a free T-shirt as part of Fan Appreciation Day.
"We have great fans and we just want to make sure that they see that were working hard," Connecticut rookie Chiney Ogwumike said. "We just want to show that we're putting in the effort to become a great team and I think next year will be even better than this year.
"We're fearless. We just don't lay down because we're not in the playoffs. We just try to play good team basketball."
This year will go down as the second-worst season in team history for the Sun (12-21). Last season was the worst (10-24), which makes this year tougher for them to stomach.
Connecticut felt revitalized headed into this season after its chaotic winter makeover. Kara Lawson wanted out and was traded to Washington for second-year guard Alex Bentley.
Sandrine Gruda wanted to play elsewhere and was shipped to Los Angeles for the ninth overall pick in April's draft.
The Sun brought back Katie Douglas, one of the best player's in franchise history.
Ogwumike was drafted first overall by Connecticut. It also traded All-Star Tina Charles that night, by her demand, to New York for second-year center Kelsey Bone, forward Alyssa Thomas (the draft's fourth overall pick), and New York's 2015 first-round pick.
Then the regular season began and the Sun proved to be too young, too unfamiliar with one another, and too offensively challenged to be a winning team. They had the league's worst field goal percentage prior to Saturday's game (.412). They're also eighth in defensive field goal percentage (.446).
It hasn't helped that All-Star guard Allison Hightower will miss her 15th straight game after needing knee surgery.
The overall effort has been there this season for the Sun, just not the execution. It was more beneficial for them to lose Friday night to Washington (71-67), as the latter earned a playoff berth and kept New York out of the postseason, thereby giving Connecticut two chances to win the No. 1 pick in this Thursday's WNBA Draft Lottery.
The Sun played to win. They trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, but Bentley's 3-pointer cut their deficit to 67-66 with 48.7 seconds left.
Connecticut turned the ball over on its next two possessions.
"That effort and how hard we play, it comes every now and then individually, but as a group we don't struggle with that," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "We've been a team that plays hard all season long. We haven't always had the right answer down the stretch in late-game situations, but effort is nothing that we question.
"I'm pleased with our effort, but it's hard for anybody to be pleased with another loss."