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    Friday, December 01, 2023

    Sun begin final road trip of regular season at Chicago on Sunday

    Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas fouls Chicago Sky guard Kahleah Copper (2) on a drive as DeWanna Bonner (24) helps on defense during the second half of last Sunday’s WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Connecticut’s recent homestand was filled with equal parts emotion and frustration.

    The Sun hope to channel both into their final road trip of the season, which begins on Sunday (1 p.m., Ch. 8) at Wintrust Arena against the reigning WNBA champion Chicago Sky.

    Chicago was the major source of that frustration last Sunday when the Sun took a 92-86 lead with 1 minute, 51 seconds left in overtime only to watch the Sky close the game on a 9-0 run to pull out 95-92 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.

    Chicago (24-8) has already clinched the all-important season series against Connecticut (22-10) — a tiebreaker for playoff seeding — by winning the first three regular-season games.

    But the Sun, who complete their road trip with back-to-back games against the Sparks in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Thursday, can certainly gain some confidence with a road win against a team that has beaten them in eight of the last 10 meetings, including last year’s WNBA semifinals when Connecticut was the No. 1 seed.

    “We’re disappointed in that locker room,” Sun coach Curt Miller said after that loss. “We had opportunities and we came up short.”

    Connecticut, to its credit, bounced back later in the week to sweep a pair of games from the Phoenix Mercury, a team fighting for one of the WNBA’s final three playoff spots. The Sun hope to carry the momentum from those two wins into Chicago, where they’re still in position to secure a high seed for the upcoming playoffs with only four games left in the regular season.

    After the three road games this week, Connecticut returns home on Sunday, Aug. 14, to host the Minnesota Lynx it the regular-season finale.

    Chicago and Connecticut have two of the most-balanced lineups in the WNBA. The Sky have six players averaging in double figures, led by Kahleah Copper at 15.6 points per game. Forward Candace Parker averages 13.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists while forward Emma Meesseman averages 12.4 points, guard Allie Quigley 11.4, guard Courtney Vandersloot 11.3 (and a team best 6.6 assists) and forward Azura Stevens 10.5.

    Jonquel Jones, the reigning WNBA MVP, leads Connecticut in both scoring (14.3) and rebounding (8.6) while Brionna Jones averages 13.8 points, DeWanna Bonner 13.6, Alyssa Thomas 13.2 (with 8.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists) and Courtney Williams 11.6.

    Thomas has had a pair of triple-doubles this season, the most recent coming in the 87-63 win over Phoenix on Tuesday when she finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

    • The WNBA announced Saturday it has finalized a new process for selection of its All-WNBA first and second teams. In previous years, voters selected players bases on position with two guards, two forward and one center making each of the two teams. Voting for this year’s All-WNBA teams will be conducted without regard for a player’s position, the league said.

    “As we evaluated our approach to end-of-season awards and spoke with our general managers, head coaches and others, it became clear that the most deserving players, regardless of position, should be recognized at season’s end,” WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin said in a release.

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