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Sun let one slip away late

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published June 08. 2013 4:00AM
Tim Cook/The Day
Connecticut's Natasha Lacy, left, is heavily guarded by Washington's Tayler Hill during the second quarter of Friday night's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Washington, coached by former Sun coach Mike Thibault, rallied to beat Connecticut 66-62.

Mohegan - The Connecticut Sun had bad mojo even before it stepped on the floor Friday night.

And then there were the final seven minutes of Connecticut's game against former coach Mike Thibault and the Washington Mystics.

The Sun couldn't hold on to a nine-point lead with over six minutes left and lost their third straight game, 66-62, before 6,150 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Connecticut (1-3) missed 10 of its final 11 shots.

"When we were up (nine), when we go on a run, we have to keep the pedal on," Sun Tina Charles said. "I don't think we did that towards the end."

It was tough enough that Connecticut lost reserve guards Renee Montgomery (high left ankle sprain) and Tan White (broken finger) within three days of one another. Both will be out at least three weeks.

The injury misery continued as starting guard Kara Lawson had a sore back and couldn't play Friday. She had an MRI, which came up fine.

All those injuries left the Sun with eight healthy players.

"We're a no-excuse team," Hightower said. "We didn't get it done. That's the bottom line.

"Every team goes through adversity, and I think we're going through adversity now. We just have to stay together."

Connecticut's eight kept the team ahead most of the game. Heck, Charles, the reigning MVP, was on the bench when the Sun had their best run of the game.

Washington led by a point when Connecticut went on a 12-0 run late in the third quarter. Reserve Ashley Walker, subbing for Charles, had five points during that spurt.

Walker concluded the run with a 3-pointer, giving Connecticut a 45-35 lead with with three minutes, 42 seconds left in the period.

The fourth quarter, wow.

The Sun had a nine-point lead and seemingly had the game in hand.

Nope. Connecticut made just six of 20 shots (30 percent) in the fourth.

Washington (2-1) got hot while the Sun went cold. Ivory Latta scored nine of her team-high 17 points in the final 6:08.

"We wanted to come into this hostile environment and get this win for (Thibault)," Latta said. "For him, it's just a win. He's not worried about this game.

"It felt very good, this win for him. Absolutely."

Charles had a game-high 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Hightower added 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.

No one else on the Sun scored in double figures. It finished shooting 35.5 percent.

"I'm really proud of the effort of the eight players who were able to go tonight," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said.

Asked if the team would stay patient with the roster while Montgomery and White were out, Donovan said, "We've never said we're going to the end with this roster. We've been evaluating since the beginning and will continue to do so. There may be some changes."

The Mystics trailed 60-51 when Latta kicked it in gear. She made two 3-pointers, wrapped around a Snow jumper, to cut her team's deficit to 60-59.

Hightower made a long jumper with over four minutes left to break up Washington's run.

It turned out to be the Sun's final points of the game.

Monique Currie (10 points, five rebounds) made a contested jumper to bring the Mystics back to within a point.

Latta made two free throws to give Washington a 63-62 lead with 2:01 remaining in the game.

"We let Latta finally break free and have her best quarter," Donovan said. "That's the time you really want to lock in and lock down."


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