Sun on target in impressive win over Phoenix
Mohegan — It's been a while since the Mohegan Sun Arena rocked during a Connecticut Sun game like it did Thursday night.
Renee Montgomery heaved up a 3-pointer just past half court at the first-half buzzer to give Connecticut a four-point lead.
Alex Bentley ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer to push the Sun ahead.
Old-hand Katie Douglas made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to push Connecticut ahead late in the game.
The Sun survived two shots in the final five seconds to beat the uber-talented Phoenix Mercury, 96-95, setting off a roar from the 5,760 in attendance.
And just like that, Connecticut has its first multi-game winning streak.
"I don't know," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said when asked if the team could've won that game weeks ago. "I don't know if our maturity was there a couple of weeks ago.
"We've got a long way to go. We're not there by any stretch, but I really like the improvement."
The Sun lost their first three games of the season, but have won back-to-back home games to improve to 4-6.
The predominantly new and young Sun have also taken steps forward to give their fans and themselves reason to feel positive.
"I think our confidence is going up shooting the ball," rookie Chiney Ogwumike said. "Before, we were forcing shots. … Now we're sharing the ball. The open person is getting the shot, and that person can knock it down, from (center) Kelsey Bone to (guard) Alex Bentley.
"As we get to play with each other, play with energy and intensity, we'll get good looks at the basket."
The Sun began the game as the WNBA's worst 3-point shooting team. They made 10 of 13 against Phoenix (6-3).
"Oh, shoot," Ogwumike exclaimed while looking at a box score. "Ten of 13 threes? That's great."
Bone, sitting next to Ogwumike, burst out laughing.
Bentley scored a game-high 22 points for Connecticut, but it was the veteran Douglas who delivered for it late.
The game was tied at 85 when Douglas scored nine straight to push the Sun ahead to stay. She made two free throws after being fouled by Taurasi. She also shot a free throw after Taurasi was whistled for a technical.
Douglas followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Sun ahead, 94-87, with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left. They never trailed again.
Douglas began the game shooting just 30 percent. She finished with 16 points.
"It was great to see her come back," Donovan said. "With KT, we knew it was going to come around."
All five Connecticut starters scored in double figures. Ogwumike had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Bone added 12 points.
Allison Hightower had 10 points before having to leave the game with over six minutes left in the third quarter with an undetermined knee injury.
Candice Dupree had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Mercury. Taurasi had 19 points and six rebounds.
Brittney Griner, Phoenix's 6-foot-8 center, had 18 points. Bone and Ogwumike did their best to harass her, which is no easy feat.
"It's a tall task," Ogwumike said. "Punny. (She) puts pressure on your team to play team defense, and I think in the first (half), they were sort of picking us apart. We take pride in getting stops. We had to make the right adjustments. I think we did a decent job."
Connecticut visits the New York Liberty today at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m.)
"We wanted to get back-to-back (wins)," Ogwumike smiled. "Hopefully, now we have a chance to get back-to-back-to-back wins."