Sun rout Aces in record fashion, 101-65
Mohegan — Half of the WNBA’s 12 general managers, when asked “which team is the most fun to watch?” in its preseason survey, said the Connecticut Sun.
Connecticut more than looked the part during Sunday's season-opener as they gave 6,637 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena fists full of glee.
Alyssa Thomas had a career-high 17 rebounds along with 13 points, six assists and two blocks as Connecticut sliced through the Las Vegas Aces, 101-65, setting a league-record for the largest blowout in a season opener.
All 12 of the Sun played. All 12 scored. Four scored in double figures. And the team topped 100 points in Game 1.
Fun, thy name is Sun.
“We’re a fun team not only on the court, but off the court,” Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike said. “We have a lot of personalities, and I think that translates to how we play.”
The previous record for largest win in a season opener was 35 points. The defunct-Cleveland Rockers clobbered the Washington Mystics, 69-34, on May 31, 2001.
Washington, oddly enough, thumped the New York Liberty by that same margin, 95-60, on May 23, 2006.
“Honestly, I’m just happy that we have something very good going on (after years of losing),” Ogwumike said.
Connecticut last scored 100-or-more last season against the Atlanta Dream (104-71, June 10, 2017).
“We play in sync with each other,” Sun Alex Bentley said. “We play in rhythm. Everybody is playing their game. We’re just having fun.”
Bentley scored a team-high 18 off the bench on 7-of-15 shooting. She also had five assists and three steals.
Jasmine Thomas had 12 points, six assists and two blocks for Connecticut. Shekinna Stricklen added 11 points before having to leave the game after a hard fall with over five minutes left in the third quarter.
Stricklen said she had ringing in her right ear after the fall but felt fine after the game
“We are just trying to pick up from where we left off last season,” Alyssa Thomas said. “We’ve been excited for this first game and have been working hard all preseason.
“It was a great start to the season.”
Tamera Young scored a game-high 23 for Las Vegas, which relocated from San Antonio during the offseason.
A’ja Wilson, the top-pick in April’s draft, missed 11 of 14 shots for the Aces but still scored 14 with 10 rebounds and two blocks. She made her points at the free throw line (8-of-10).
Las Vegas shot a woeful 26.5-percent (18-of-68). To be fair, it was without four of their top players from last season — Isabelle Harrison (indefinite leave of absence), Moriah Jefferson (recovering from offseason surgery), and Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum both played in the third-and-decisive game of the Turkish Women’s Basketball League on Saturday.
“They are good basketball players, but we can’t even make that as an excuse,” Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer said, who both built and coached three WNBA championship teams with the defunct-Detroit Shock.
“(The Sun) are a very good basketball team and we knew we were going to be in a hornet’s nest and we were exposed.”
Las Vegas was so strapped for players that they started guard Lindsay Allen, who was signed on Saturday after being waived by New York on Thursday. She played for Laimbeer when he coached the Liberty last season.
Connecticut fell behind early as it missed nine of its first 11 shots.
Vegas took advantage and led 14-4 with six minutes, 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Sun used an 8-0 run to go ahead for good, 25-20, with 51.3 seconds left in the first period.
Brionna Jones made two late free throws to give Connecticut 101 points.
“We didn’t face a lot of adversity in the three exhibition games,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “So to take that punch early by Las Vegas and stay composed, and stayed to what we think is important with the way we played, we just grinded back into the game, which was good for us.”