Sun fall to Sky, 81-75
The Connecticut Sun have been one of the WNBA's most consistent teams more than a third-of-the-way into their season and hadn't lost consecutive games.
Until Thursday night.
Kahleah Copper had 18 points and eight rebounds as the Chicago Sky used a third quarter surge to beat the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night, 81-75, before 1,293 at Wintrust Arena.
Connecticut is 8-4 and just one of three teams with winning records in the 12-team WNBA.
The Sun were ahead the majority of the first half. They led by as much as 40-31 just 1 minute, 35 seconds into the third quarter.
Chicago went on to shoot 50-percent in that quarter and ended it with a 59-55 lead.
“I think we just let them get a little loose from us,” Sun Jasmine Thomas said. “I felt like we let them get into the paint a little more on ball screens (and) just do what they wanted. We weren’t disruptive at all, and we weren’t scoring and getting the offensive possessions we wanted, and I think that our defense was affected by that.”
Candace Parker had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Sky (6-7), who have won four straight since her return from an ankle injury.
Courtney Vandersloot had 12 points, 10 assists and four steals for Chicago and Diamond DeShields had 13 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Thomas had 20 points and four assists for Connecticut and Kaila Charles added 15 points and seven rebounds. DeWanna Bonner had 10 points and 10 rebounds but had an atypical shooting night, missing 13 of 16 field goals.
The teams play again on Saturday at the same site at 2 p.m.
It was the Sun’s second straight game without 6-foot-6 post Jonquel Jones, the league’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder. She’s playing for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket tournament in France and Spain. The tournament runs from Friday through June 27.
Rebounding and points-in-the paint have been two of the pillars of Connecticut’s success this season led by Jones. It was outrebounded 38-34 by Chicago (including 10-8 on the offensive glass). It also trailed in points-in-the paint (38-34) and second-chance points (21-17).
“We knew what we were in for losing JJ,” Thomas said. “Her length and her versatility and everything she gives us on the defensive end, we knew we would have to kind of fill that void. I think we’ve done a lot of good things. ... I just think that sometimes we let mistakes compound and get a little frustrated, and we need to stay together in those moments.”
Connecticut also shot 36.7-percent in the second half.
Sun head coach Curt Miller missed the game as he’s attending to a family matter in Pennsylvania.
DeShields’ three gave Chicago a 49-47 lead with 2:27 remaining in the third quarter, its first lead since the 1:59 mark in the first quarter.
Emma Cannon made a three on the other end to put the Sun back ahead.
Vandersloot answered with a three of her own on Chicago’s next possession as it went ahead, 52-50, with 1:52 left in the quarter and never trailed again.
Parker’s three gave the Sky their largest lead, 78-64, with 2:35 left in the game.
“We had some silly turnovers (in the third) that led to some fast break points for them and they got a little hot there,” Sun interim coach Brandi Poole said, “They went on that run, and we didn’t answer back as quickly as we needed to.
“Yeah,” Poole sighed. “The third quarter was tough.”
• Jones had 13 points and a game-high 16 rebounds as Bosnia and Herzegovina upset Belgium on Thursday, 70-55. Belgium, led by Emma Meesseman of the Washington Mystics, was sixth in FIBA’s world rankings prior to the tournament. Bosnia and Herzegovina was No. 34.
Bosnia and Herzegovina plays Turkey on Friday. Jones will miss Connecticut’s next two games and perhaps two more should her team reach the June 29 final.