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    CT Sun
    Monday, August 08, 2022

    Sun need to be more efficient in rematch against Indiana

    Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell tries to drive between Connecticut Sun guards Natisha Hiedeman (2) and Jasmine Thomas (5) during Friday night's game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun won 94-85 and the two teams will play again on Sunday, this time in Indianapolis. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

    Mohegan — Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller was asked after Friday night's win over the Indiana Fever if he thought his team settled for too many 3-pointers early in the game.

    “Were you in the (team) huddle?,” he said with a grin.

    The Sun won yet another home game and scored over 90 points, but did so without having the kind of consistent, efficient play that they expect from themselves.

    Connecticut and the Fever conclude their home-and-home series Sunday at Indianapolis’ Gainbridge Fieldhouse (2 p.m., NESN Plus).

    The Sun (3-1) will be shorthanded because starting forward DeWanna Bonner stayed home to rest. She arrived back in the country on May 13 having finished her off-season overseas commitments with CBK Mersin the day before in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Bonner has played twice for Connecticut and scored 18 on Friday night, including making all four of her 3-pointers, with four assists in a 94-85 win. She has dealt with jet lag, and the team is at the beginning of a furious stretch in which they’ll play eight games in 15 days with the final four games on the road.

    The Sun beat Indiana despite a clunky start offensively. They shot just 31.2 percent in the first 10 minutes, including missing 4 of 7 threes and two layup attempts.

    It didn’t help that reserve post Brionna Jones was limited to under four minutes in the first half because of three fouls.

    Connecticut shot much better over the final three quarters (47.3 percent).

    “I want to pull my hair out,” Miller said. “I’m frustrated that I couldn’t push buttons for them throughout the game offensively and we scored over 90, but we didn’t do it as efficiently (as they could) and that’s where I feel frustrated as a coach; that I couldn’t help them be more efficient.

    “People (may) call me crazy because we scored over 90 again but we have to be more efficient. Big picture-wise, we have to be more efficient to go where we want to go (the WNBA Finals).

    The Sun also struggled to slow down Indiana (2-5) as it shot 54 percent.

    “That’s basketball,” Connecticut forward Alyssa Thomas said. “It’s due to happen. ... Teams are going to get hot. There’s a lot of great players in this league.”

    Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell gave the Sun the most problems as would be expected. She scored 19 of her game-high 23 in the fourth quarter.

    “We did such a good job for the first 30 minutes on Kelsey Mitchell,” Miller said, “but you obviously see what kind of player she’s capable of being as she had just a terrific fourth quarter and really extended that game and made us work all the way to the buzzer.”

    Connecticut was the league’s best defensive team last year and want to remain that way. It will be tougher to do so, however, because starting guard Briann January signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Storm on Feb. 2. That same day, guard Courtney Williams and the Sun announced a deal for her to return to the team after playing the previous two years for the Atlanta Dream.

    January was arguably the Sun's defensive catalyst last season and, along with post Jonquel Jones and guard Jasmine Thomas, received votes for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

    Some of Indiana’s success offensively can also be traced back to Connecticut’s inefficiency on offense.

    “It’s still about our principles and trying to slow them down the best that we can but we’ve got to take our offensive possessions and score the ball (to help defensively),” Thomas said. “We had a hard time scoring in the paint. We missed a lot of shots that we usually make.”


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