Sun overcome lack of depth to win fourth straight, beating Aces 89-85
Mohegan — On the night they raised former Sun great Lindsay Whalen’s jersey to the rafters of Mohegan Sun Arena, the longest-tenured member of the franchise — the one coach Curt Miller calls the team’s “engine” — made her bid to have her No. 25 sitting up there one day, too.
Alyssa Thomas played every minute Friday night, authoring one of the memorable efforts in the history of the arena. She finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and four assists — seemingly playing every position, including point guard — leading the Sun to their biggest win of the season.
Thomas and the Sun edged Las Vegas 89-85 while 7,483 fans were blowing the roof off the arena.
The Sun (20-8) won the season tiebreaker over third-place Vegas (19-10). The Sun moved into first place overall in the WNBA standings, following Washington’s loss at Chicago.
It was the Sun’s fourth straight win and eighth straight at home. They’ve won twenty games for the third straight season under coach Curt Miller.
“I’m exhausted,” Thomas said after the game.
Teammate Courtney Williams, who played 35 minutes and scored 24 points, said, “everything hurts,” after the game ... but with a beaming smile.
It is customary for the Sun's Miller to sit on the team bench an hour or so before tipoff and chat with the media. Miller flashed a wry grin at the most popular question Friday night.
“So, coach, what happens if Jazz gets in foul trouble?”
The question alluded to the Sun’s dearth of depth, given the injuries to reserve point guards Rachel Banham (ankle) and Natisha Hiedeman (turf toe). And this was the wrong game for starter Jasmine Thomas to sustain an injury or foul trouble.
It turned out that Jasmine Thomas was virtually the only one not in foul trouble. But the Sun, despite some funky lineups, proved resourceful.
“It was a great win for us, for our psyche,” Miller said. “We know we can step up in big games.”
Liz Cambage led Vegas with 18. A’ja Wilson had 17 and Dearica Hamby 14.
Alyssa Thomas scored 13 points alone in the third period as the Sun overcame a nine-point deficit to take a 72-70 lead heading to the fourth. Connecticut held Las Vegas without a point for more than five minutes in the quarter.
The Sun led 36-32 midway through the second period before Vegas finished the half on a 24-11 run. Hamby came off the bench to score 12 for the Aces. Williams had 12 in the half for the Sun while Alyssa Thomas had 10.
Cambage and Wilson ended the half with two fouls apiece, as well.
It was among the most eventful first quarters of the season. Connecticut hit 10 of its first 17 shots and led by as many as 11. Except that foul trouble exacerbated depth issues. Jonquel Jones and Theresa Plaisance had two fouls apiece in the first seven minutes. Shekinna Stricklen followed with her second foul with 1:06 left in the quarter.
Miller was issued a technical foul with 48.7 left, much to the chagrin of the crowd. Miller even walked over to the press table to offer his view of the officiating to that point in the game.
The Sun board a plane early Saturday morning and will play at Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.