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    CT Sun
    Monday, August 15, 2022

    Sun get defensive against Dream

    Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams brings the ball up against the New York Liberty in a WNBA game on June 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    The Connecticut Sun allowed 17 points in the first quarter of Sunday afternoon's game at the Atlanta Dream.

    There were 3 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half and Connecticut still had the Dream stuck at 17 points.

    The Sun had another un-Sun-like night offensively but more than compensated with their defense in a 72-61 win before 2,722 at Gateway Center Arena at College Park.

    "I loved our competitiveness today in a (game) where we didn't shoot the ball well from the perimeter," Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said. "It says something about our defense and our (competitiveness) that on a night where you didn't shoot very well that you find different ways to win. Tonight, it was our defense."

    The Sun (13-6) didn't shoot well for the third straight game as they made 41.5-percent of their shots.

    Atlanta shot 33.3 percent.

    Georgia native Courtney Williams had a good time at the Dream's expense in her first game at Atlanta since the latter chose not to resign her in the offseason. She made 8 of 14 shots and scored 17 with 10 rebounds.

    "Her family was here," Miller said. "You can always get some juice with Courtney (in) a matchup in Atlanta. (She had) a huge double-double for us tonight, and efficient double-double."

    Alyssa Thomas (15 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) also had a double-double for Connecticut and DeWanna Bonner added 12 points and five assists.

    Rookie Rhyne Howard had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Dream (8-10) and Aari McDonald added 17 points and four assists.

    The Dream had five players inactive for the game, including starters Erica Wheeler (left foot sprain) and Tiffany Hayes (right knee).

    Atlanta has been a difficult matchup for opposing defenses at times this season because it runs a dribble drive offense that's not seen in the pro game. The offense is used at the high school and college level, spreading the floor in the halfcourt with players reading the defense rather than running set plays and using speed and decision making to attack opponents.

    "You've just got to guard one-on-one," Miller said. "You've really got to stay in plays and be disciplined to stay and guard your yard and make things as difficult as possible. ... It's good old-fashioned sit-in-a-stance and defend against a team like Atlanta which is looking for a lot of one-on-one driving."

    Atlanta rookie Naz Hillmon made a layup to tie the game at 17 with 39.2 seconds left in the first quarter.

    Williams ended the quarter with a 17-foot pullup jumper to put Connecticut ahead for good.

    The Dream couldn't get anything going offensively in the second quarter. It was outscored 20-5 and missed 11 of 13 shots (15.4 percent).

    The Sun opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run. DiJonai Carrington made two free throws, Williams knocked down a 20-footer and Carrington turned a steal into a layup to give Connecticut a 25-17 lead with 8:45 left in the half.

    Bonner's putback, a layup by Jonquel Jones and two free throws by Thomas extended the Sun's lead to 31-17 with 4:36 remaining in the half.

    The Dream, meanwhile, turned it over eight times before Asia Durr turned a layup into a three-point play with 3:40 left in the second quarter. They turned it over 10 times that quarter for 12 points.

    "We were aggressive," Thomas said. "The biggest thing was just having pride in your one-on-one matchups. A lot of things they do without screens, so we were able to turn them over, which for us leads to transition (baskets) which we haven't had in a few games."

    Sun re-signs Jazmine Jones, Holmes

    Connecticut signed reserves Jazmine Jones and Joyner Holmes to 7-day contracts on Sunday after waiving both on Friday. All WNBA contracts became guaranteed at the midway part of the season (June 24), so releasing the duo and signing them to 7-day contracts gives the Sun more flexibility in case of injuries or other unforeseen problems.

    n.griffen@theday.com

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