Sun rally to beat Wings, 80-70, snap losing streak
Mohegan — It wouldn’t have been time to freak out had a 14-point, third-quarter deficit led to a fourth straight loss for the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.
The Sun sure needed a spark after an ugly first half, though, and DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones provided it and more.
The duo combined to score 35 of the Sun's 50 second-half points and gave them an 80-70 win over the Dallas Wings before 2,076 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Sun (9-5) trailed 46-32 with 6 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Bonner and Jones rallied Connecticut back with a 21-3 run. They also scored 23 of Connecticut’s 28 points in the third quarter
“(A) gutsy, big win for us,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “Really spirited effort by our players defensively in the second half holding that high-powered offense to 32 points. We talked about coming into the game how good they were in transition. Only two transition points. (The Wings were) number one in the league in second-chance points. They only got four second chance points all night.”
Dallas shot 51.5-percent (17 of 33) in the first half.
The Wings shot 35.7-perecent (10 of 28) in the second half.
“It did not feel well for long stretches in that first half, but we stuck to our (defensive) game plan,” Miller said. “We played with a little more feisty, competitive defensive spirit in the second half, and it really propelled us.”
Bonner played the entire game and had 25 points and 13 rebounds.
Jones set a career-high for points for the second straight game as she scored 26 with five rebounds. Her previous high was 22 scored in Saturday’s 91-81 loss at the Chicago Sky.
“In the first half I wasn’t concentrating on just finishing through the contact or whatever,” Jones said. “In the second half I came in just being more aggressive and attacking. Even if there was contract, just trying to finish through it.”
Kaila Charles had 12 points, a career-high 12 rebounds (including a game-high six offensive) and three steals for the Sun.
“Career-high for Breezy (Jones),” Miller said. “DB was in attack mode tonight, but (the) player of the game is Kaila Charles. (She had) a huge double-double. Got us a lot of extra possessions. Just was a big factor all night for us.”
Charles, a 6-foot-1 wing in her second season, had played sparingly off the bench in Connecticut’s first 10 games. She averaged 11.1 minutes in eight games for a total of eight points.
Charles got her third straight start on Tuesday because Jonquel Jones, the Sun’s star post, is playing for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team at the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket tournament. Charles has averaged 12.5 points the past four games.
“I just want to be able to impact both sides of the ball,” Charles said. “I know I can be a really good defender, but I also want to be able to help offensively, whether that’s finding my teammates, knocking down open shots when I get the opportunity, or creating.
“It’s just a matter of staying the course (and) being patient. I know when JJ comes back, I may not play as much, but I’m still going to be ready and I’m still going to make the most of the time I get.”
The Sun’s three-game losing streak coincided with Jones’ absence. Bosnia and Herzegovina plays at France in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The semifinals are on Saturday and the final is Sunday.
Jasmine Thomas added 11 points, four assists and two blocks for the Sun.
Miller returned to Connecticut's bench after missing two games last week because his mother had a stroke.
Arike Ogunbowale had 18 points, five rebounds and three steals for Dallas (6-8) and Satou Sabally scored 16.
The Sun beat the league’s best rebounding team on the boards (37-27). They also had a 48-38 advantage in the paint and 17-4 on second-chance points.
Connecticut had one of its worst halves of the season in the game's first 20 minutes. It shot 31.2-percent in the second quarter and were outscored, 19-10.
Dallas had no such issues and went ahead at halftime, 38-30.
Sabally, a 6-foot-4 post, made consecutive threes to push Dallas’ lead to 46-32 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
Connecticut had shot 35.1-percent (13 of 37) up to that point.
The Sun roared back to life and shot 48.5 percent (16 of 33) the rest of the game.
Jones started Connecticut’s 21-3 run with a putback. She followed with a layup for a three-point play.
Bonner added two free throws. She then made three straight layups, two of which she turned into a three-point play, to cut Sun's deficit to 49-47 with 3:29 left in the period.
Briann January tied it at 49 with two free throws.
Jones made back-to-back layups to give Connecticut a 53-49 edge with 2:20 remaining in the quarter. It never trailed again.
January made an open three with 27.6 seconds left in the quarter to give the Sun a 58-53 lead after three.
“Ultimately, we started finishing in the paint," Miller said. “I think we made 13 of our last 15 field goals in the paint. Just terrific finishing in the second half down the stretch.”
For a gallery of more photos from the game, click here.
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