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Winless Sun downed by Storm, 87-74

The Connecticut Sun have needed to pass the ball more in order to get better shots early in this abbreviated WNBA season.

Connecticut did that late Tuesday night.

The Sun have needed to shoot the ball better as their field goal percentage was under 40-percent prior through their first four games.

Connecticut did that against the Seattle Storm.

The Sun has needed to get offensive production from players other than DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas.

Connecticut got that Tuesday night as Brionna Jones scored 18 of her career-high 20 points in the first half.

The Sun still lost to Seattle, 87-74, because they turned it over one too many times in their game at IMG Academy at Bradenton, Fla.

If it's not one thing, it's another for Connecticut, which have contributed to its first 0-5 start in franchise history.

"What killed us tonight were turnovers," Sun head coach Curt Miller said. "They scored 20 points off of (15) turnovers. ... We were shooting our best (field goal) percentage for the year. We were assisting on the most baskets of the year, but we had too many turnovers. All those turnovers are empty possessions."

Seattle (4-1), the top-ranked team in the Associated Press' media poll, closed the third quarter with a 12-4 and never trailed again.

Connecticut was outscored in the third quarter, 23-13. It turned it over 10 times in the second half.

"We don't feel like we're playing our best," Thomas said. "We know that we're not.''

Breanna Stewart led five Storm players in double figures as she scored a game-high 22 with five rebounds and five blocks. Rookie Ezi Magbegor scored 15 off the bench in over 13 minutes.

Jordin Canada, starting at point guard in place of an injured Sue Bird (left knee bone bruise), had 14 points, six assists and three steals. Alysha Clark had 13 points and three steals and Jewell Loyd had 12 points and four assists.

Connecticut shot 43.5-percent, notable because it and the winless New York Liberty were the only two teams in the league shooting under 40-percent prior to Tuesday.

Alyssa Thomas had 15 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for the Sun while Jones had another good outing as she made 9 of 12 shots, including her first career 3-pointer late in the first quarter that gave them a 19-16 lead.

Jasmine Thomas had 11 points and four assists for Connecticut.

Another thing that hurt Connecticut was that Bonner had her first off-night offensively this season. She missed 7 of 9 shots and scored 5 with seven rebounds and four assists.

Bonner is the league's leading scorer and averaged 27.5 points prior to Tuesday.

"Alysha Clark is a really good defender," Miller said. "They got really physical with her, but DeWanna was (also) intentionally sharing the ball.

"The other night (Saturday's 78-69 loss to the Minnesota Lynx) we got 15 (points) from Bri Jones but couldn't get AT going from the field. Tonight, we needed a little bit more from DB, but again, credit to Clark."

Connecticut thought that it had been forcing shots instead of passing to a teammate with a better look in its first four games. They had 22 assists on 30 field goals against the Storm.

"I know the scoreboard looks worse than single-digit losses, but we grew so much tonight," Miller said. "We had 22 assists on 30 baskets. We really shared the ball. We moved the ball more. That sounds like last year."

Stewart started Seattle's late third quarter run with an open 3-pointer to tie the game at 49 with 3:16 left in the period.

"A curl and pop; a real good action and screen by Jewell," Miller said. "On a one-day prep, we talked about it, but they executed better than we executed.

"Stewart is just really, really good. She made some really tough shots when we defended her tonight."

The Sun's Theresa Plaisance tied it on the other end with a 10-foot turnaround jumper.

Whitcomb made a 3-pointer seconds later to put Seattle ahead for good, 54-51, with 2:05 remaining in the quarter.

Magbegor had a chance for a three-point play as she was fouled on a layup. She missed the free throw, but Clark got the offensive rebound and fired off a 3-pointer that push Seattle's lead to 59-53 with 1:14 left in the period.

Canada's two free throws gave the Storm a 61-53 lead after three quarters.

Seattle went ahead by as much as 77-58 on Clark's 3-pointer with 5:05 left in the game.

"Everything is connected," Jasmine Thomas said. "When things don't feel good, when you get a little frustrated, I think it all just starts to kind of trickle (down).

"I think more leadership from me could be something (that would help), really just keeping us together in those moments. You can feel it (the frustration) when it's coming. Just addressing it (and) find a way to snap us out of it might help."

• Natisha Hiedeman got her first start for the Sun and replaced Bria Holmes. She shot 3 of 10 but had seven rebounds and five assists. ... Connecticut reserve guard Jacki Gemelos was out injured because of her knee. Miller said it was for "precautionary" reasons. ... The Sun hope to have guard Briann January cleared to play by the WNBA on Wednesday. She missed all of training camp and the start of the season due to testing positive for COVID-19.

n.griffen@theday.com

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