Playoffs in sight for tired Sun
Mohegan — The Connecticut Sun could use some extra rest right now.
It’s late in the WNBA season. The Sun spent 14 hours traveling home Thursday from a West Coast road trip and played a draining game Friday night.
There’s no rest for the weary right now, though. Not with the playoffs in sight.
Connecticut hosts the Dallas Wings on Sunday (3 p.m., Mohegan Sun Arena, NESN Plus). It would clinch its third straight playoff berth with a win or with an Indiana Fever loss at the Washington Mystics, who also play at 3 p.m.
The Sun are 18-8.
“At this point of the season, you can’t really worry about your body,” Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas said. “Everybody is tired. You just have to find the energy and push through and get ready for playoffs.”
Shekinna Stricklen and Alyssa and Jasmine Thomas all played over 34 minutes in the Sun’s wild 79-78 comeback win over the Seattle Storm on Friday night.
Connecticut trailed the Storm by as much as 13 points (61-48) with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left in the third quarter and by seven points (76-69) with 1:26 left in the game.
“We challenged (the starters) to muster up energy, which is not easy after a three-game West Coast road trip,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “That second quarter, we looked fatigued. You could feel it in the first quarter.
“I'm just really, really proud of them, how they came through there at the end."
Jasmine Thomas, Courtney Williams and Stricklen all played the entire second half of Friday’s game, while Alyssa Thomas played all but 13 seconds.
Stricklen was one of the major catalysts in the win as she scored 16 of her team-high 24 points in the second half. That included making two game-winning free throws with 4 seconds left. It was also its first lead since 8:37 of the second quarter.
The Sun will be without reserve guard Rachel Banham, who injured her ankle in the first quarter after leaping for an offensive rebound. She fell to the floor upon landing and grabbed her left leg. She was down on the court for a few minutes before being helped up and to the back.
Banham has needed season-ending knee surgery twice since 2014, so it was only natural to be concerned.
“Seeing her go down, it really hurt,” Stricklen said. “We’re family here. We love each and every one one of us.
“Honestly, that was all I was thinking about really was her. It really gave me another boost of energy in the second half.”
The timetable for Banham’s return wasn’t known as of Saturday, but it’s not expected to be too long.
Dallas (9-17) has won three in a row despite being shorthanded. Starter Kayla Thornton and reserve Kristine Anigwe had to sit out the last two games due to their involvement in an altercation with Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner during an Aug. 10 game. Kaela Davis will be suspended from Sunday’s game for her involvement in the skirmish.
Two-time All-WNBA first team pick Skyler Diggins-Smith has been out all season after she gave birth to her first child back in April. Tayler Hill (knee) and former UConn post Azura Stevens (foot) are both injured, too.
Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale is the league's seventh-leading scorer (16.3) and along with Minnesota’s Napheesa Collier has been a top candidate for Rookie of the Year. The former Notre Dame star scored 23 in a 74-73 win over Connecticut on June 26, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:23 left in the game.
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