Road games, not always televised in the WNBA, pass without fanfare on occasion. What the Connecticut Sun accomplished at Indiana on Friday, however, was the best sign yet of the team's sturdy, steady growth.
The Sun won the fourth quarter on the road. And the game, too, moving atop the Eastern Conference against one of the league's yardsticks. The 89-81 win gets Connecticut halfway home during what could be a significant early-season weekend.
Now that Indiana is past tense, the two-time defending conference champions visit Mohegan Sun Arena today at 5 p.m. Atlanta, not necessarily as consistent as Indiana in past regular seasons, has made the WNBA finals for the last two seasons.
The Dream (3-4) have played the season without former Sun forward - and solid WNBA player - Erika DeSouza, who has decided to stay in her native Brazil to prepare for the Olympics. Iziane Castro-Marques, who made some killer 3-pointers as the Dream eliminated the Sun from last season's playoffs, is gone as well.
But there's still Angel McCoughtry, one of the league's dynamic scorers, as well as Lindsey Harding, Armintie Price and Sancho Lyttle, among others.
McCoughtry is the league's third-leading scorer (21.4), just head of No. 4 Tina Charles (20.7).
"It's hard to play them no matter what," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "They still have one of the leading scorers in the league (McCoughtry) and quickness at all the perimeter positions. Sancho isn't getting any worse. (Yelena) Leuchanka is not DeSouza, but she's a pretty good player.
"What I'll learn (today) is if we've learned anything. We defended them well in the playoffs, but our downfall was offensively in the fourth quarter against them."
The Sun led both playoff games in the fourth period last season.
The game also marks Tiffany Hayes' return to Connecticut. Hayes, who played at UConn and helped the Huskies reach the Final Four in March, could have been drafted by the Sun.
"We talked about it," Thibault said. "But we felt like with Allie's development (Allison Hightower), we weren't sure we wanted to bring in a rookie who could possibly get cut."
The Sun play home games against Los Angeles (Wednesday) and New York (Friday) this week.