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    CT Sun
    Saturday, August 20, 2022

    Sun fight back from 17-point deficit, beat Mystics in overtime

    Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud (9) and Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams (10) dive after a loose ball in Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun won 74-72 in overtime. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    Mohegan — The Connecticut Sun had reached a point in the first half Sunday afternoon where they had to focus on the moment and not the score.

    The Sun were defenseless again in the first half as the Washington Mystics did what they wanted and went ahead by as much as 17 points.

    “At some point, you don’t even look at the score,” Connecticut’s Courtney Williams said. “Let’s win every possession. That was the mindset that we went into.”

    The Sun responded with their most tenacious comeback of the season. They stymied Washington’s offense in the second half and battled back for a 74-72 overtime win before 5,814 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

    “I don’t know if there’s enough adjectives to describe the toughness, the grittiness, that we had in the second half,” Connecticut head coach Curt Miller said. “They stuck together. There (were) not a bunch of strategic adjustments. There was a want-to, a will-to, and we just fought that entire second half and stayed together.

    “That team could’ve separated with that first half, and we’ve had some tough first quarters in this stretch, so I really give them a lot of credit for sticking together and how hard we had to play to earn a win from way down.”

    Washington shot a robust 56.2 percent in the first half and led 49-34.

    The Mystics went ahead by as much as 17 points (55-38) with 5 minutes, 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

    Washington’s shooting percentage then went into a freefall — they shot just 22.6 percent (7 of 31) the rest of the game.

    “The biggest thing was getting stops,” Alyssa Thomas on the Sun said. “The first half, when we were getting stops, we were able to get out and into transition. Defensively, we weren’t flowing like we needed to but, as you can see, when it came down to crunch time, we did what we needed to do, and we had each other’s back.”

    Thomas had 23 points and nine rebounds and Williams had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists for Connecticut (14-7), which clinched the season series against the Mystics.

    Natisha Hiedeman added 14 points, five assists and five steals for the Sun and Jonquel Jones, playing through five fouls, had 11 points and five rebounds.

    Ariel Atkins had 18 points, four assists and four steals for Washington (13-10) and Alysha Clark had 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

    “(Connecticut) played at a much more aggressive pace (in the second half), particularly on the defensive end,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “They trapped us a little bit more. They decided to make it very difficult on ball-screen situations. They abandoned their zone (defense), and we didn’t handle it (well). And then we missed some of the same shots we made in the first half. You go 0-for-9 in the second half from three, that’s not a good stat.”

    Connecticut rallied back fast from its 17-point deficit. Williams’ 20-foot jumper cut Washington’s advantage to 59-58 with 8:19 left in the game.

    The Sun struggled to take the lead, however, as they missed six out of their next seven shots.

    “As a head coach, (I’ve) been there I feel 100 times in my career when you’ve been behind and you fight all the way back and you can’t get over the hump,” Miller said. “You never quite get over the hump to give yourself that energy.”

    Hiedeman was able to finally get Connecticut over the hump with a steal and a layup to give it a 62-61 lead with 4:39 remaining.

    It was the Sun’s first lead since 6:29 of the first quarter.

    “For our psyche, it was so good,” Miller said off Hiedeman’s basket.

    The teams exchanged the lead three times to close the quarter with Jones’ 7-foot bank shot tying the game at 66-66 with 1:31 remaining.

    Connecticut had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Williams missed a 15-foot pullup.

    Williams made a 9-foot pullup jumper and Thomas followed with one from 15 feet to put the Sun ahead to stay, 70-66, with 3:42 left in overtime.

    Washington still had a chance to tie or win the game, though. Natasha Cloud drove the lane with 2.8 seconds left but had her shot blocked by Brionna Jones.

    Myisha Hines-Allen missed a 29-foot shot to end the game.

    “We held a really talented team. .... to 17 second-half points,” Miller said. “I’m really proud of our defense.”

    n.griffen@theday.com

    Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) scores over Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud (9) in Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Washington Mystics guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (32) scores over Connecticut Sun center Brionna Jones (42) in Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams (10) blocks a shot attempt by Washington Mystics guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (32) as center Brionna Jones (42) helps on defense in Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud (9) scores around Connecticut Sun center Brionna Jones (42) in Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    Sun Mystics WNBA Photo Gallery

    For a photo gallery from the Sun Mystics WNBA game CLICK HERE.

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