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    CT Sun
    Monday, May 29, 2023

    Sun, with plenty of room to improve, take care of Shock at home

    Connecticut Sun forward Asjha Jones, left, tangles with Tulsa's Tiffany Jackson for a loose ball during Sunday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Jones scored 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting as the Sun improved to 2-1 with a 90-79 victory over the Shock.

    Mohegan - The Connecticut Sun got off to a fine start Sunday, scoring the game's first six points against the winless Tulsa Shock and building an early 11-point lead.

    Tulsa, the WNBA's worst shooting team, came right back and cut the deficit to five before the end of the first quarter.

    Connecticut showed its yin and yang in its 90-79 win before 6,520 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

    The good - four players scored in double figures. They shot 48.6 percent. And they had 22 assists to 13 turnovers.

    The bad - defense, defense, defense and defense.

    "A team comes in here and shoots 50 percent ... it's never a good thing," forward Asjha Jones said.

    Yes, Tulsa shot 50 percent. On the road.

    "At the same time, it's good that we hung in there and got the win," Jones said. "It's all in the way you look at it, I guess."

    Consider this, too - the Shock began the day shooting 35 percent per-game.

    "We moved the ball well," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We had a good offensive flow, but we had defensive lapses for a stretch, and a team comes in and shoots 50 percent in our building. That's the disappointing thing. For long stretches we were good defensively, but when we struggle, we'd have two-to-four minutes of mediocre defense."

    Tina Charles had a team-high 19 points with eight rebounds for Connecticut while Jones continued to look like her old self, shooting 8 of 12 for 16 points with four rebounds and three assists.

    Kara Lawson added 17 points, five rebounds and three assists and Renee Montgomery had 15 points and seven assists.

    The flip side - point guard Ivory Latta made 11 of 14 shots and scored a game-high 26 for the Shock (0-4).

    "I take the good and the bad," Jones said. "Three games in, that's how it's supposed to be. We're not supposed to play our best basketball right now. If we're peaking right now, then what's going to happen late on down the road?

    "At the same time, we just have to look at our faults, things we did wrong, and try to learn form them and try to cut them down."

    The WNBA season is in just its third week.

    The defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream, the consensus pick to win the conference, is 0-3.

    The San Antonio Silver Stars, thought by many to be a Western playoff contender, are 3-0 and looking like a title contender.

    It would be foolish, then, to make definitive statements about any of the league's 12 teams.

    At the same time, Connecticut knows what needs fixing (defense), and that it better fix it soon if it wants to end its two-year playoff absence.

    "It's just a process," Montgomery said. "It's just certain times we relax. And that's like anything you do in life. You have bad habits, and you work on them, work on them, work on them. And if you don't continue to work at it, then it's going to come back."

    Asked what she needed to do better defensively, Montgomery said, "I've been trying not to be so close to the guards. I always had this mentality that I had to pressure the guards and cause turnovers. Now I'm trying to just take a step back and keep the guard in front of you."

    Rookie Kayla Pederson had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Tulsa. Heralded Australian rookie center Liz Cambage had 16 points and two rebounds before leaving with a possible concussion with over six minutes left in the game.

    n.griffen@theday.com

    Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson, only 5-foot-9, reaches up to block a shot by 6-foot-8 Tulsa center Liz Cambage during Sunday afternoon's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun beat the Shock 90-79.
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