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Sun rout Tulsa 88-69 to end four-game slide

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published July 03. 2013 4:00AM   Updated July 03. 2013 6:14AM
Dana Jensen/The Day
Connecticut's Allison Hightower (23) drives past Tulsa's Jennifer Lacy during Tuesday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Hightower scored 18 points as the Sun ended a four-game losing streak with an 88-69 victory.

Mohegan — Any inspiration is happily accepted amid a losing streak, a three-week, four-game odyssey for the Connecticut Sun by Tuesday night. Which is why even though Sydney Carter, the little guard who did, posted more impressive numbers, her teammates chose to focus on the "two" under the category of "blocked shots."

"Two blocked shots for Sydney Carter!" injured Sun guard Renee Montgomery said in the relieved locker room, perusing the post game stat sheet. "Dead serious."

There was even Carter's notable swat of Skylar Diggins' offering in the third period that generated the loudest roar of the night from the crowd of 5,701 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

A group exhale followed shortly thereafter. The Sun snapped their losing streak with an 88-69 win over Tulsa, the last-place team in the Western Conference.

Tulsa's shortcomings were irrelevant, though, for Connecticut, which had lost seven of eight.

"There are not words to describe how badly we needed a win," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. "And a good one where everybody is contributing. Four people in double figures and our bench doing a great job. It wasn't just a win. It was a feel-good win in terms of how we played. Much needed."

Carter, a 5-foot-6 little speedball, played at Texas A&M and was the Chicago Sky's third-round draft choice in 2012. Atlanta cut her earlier this season before the Sun signed her as an "emergency replacement player," because of injuries to Montgomery and Kara Lawson.

She had seven points and eight assists in 23 minutes, capably running the offense. It allowed Allie Hightower to play on the wing more, contributing to Hightower's 18 points and six assists.

"It takes a load off Allie and puts her back in her natural position," Donovan said. "Sydney's done a great job every day getting better and getting comfortable. The players trust her. If you come in as a replacement player - and she knows that's what she is - how comfortable and how confident do you make yourself? She's done a great job taking control of this team in the absence of both our point guards."

Carter's block of Diggins contributed to Diggins' 1-for-8 night from the field.

"I think I surprised myself," Carter said. "Anne was yelling at me to close out (on the shooter) because I was staying in and helping too long. You never know what you're capable of."

Tina Charles had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Izzy Castro Marques had 15 points and Kalana Greene had 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

"If you keep dwelling on the loss before, you're going to stay in that funk," Greene said. "We may have done that in some of the games we lost. But you've got to have short term memory. The way we played tonight, you'd have thought we won 20 games in a row.

"In this league every night is a hard night," Greene said. "The dynamics and personnel of the teams change. Some players fit in differently. You do what you can that night versus your matchup."

Riquna Williams led Tulsa (3-11) with 23 points and Glory Johnson scored 10.

Tulsa has lost four straight.

"It's not difficult to see why we were on the losing end of this one," Tulsa coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "I give Connecticut all the credit. I thought they played like a desperate team that wanted to get a win. They came out and executed and knocked down their shots."

Connecticut rookie Kelly Faris made a 3-point field goal to begin the fourth period and the Sun led by double digits for the entire quarter.

News and notes

• Hightower left the game in the fourth period after taking an elbow. She said she felt fine after the game. … Former WNBA great Dawn Staley presented Kara Lawson with the Dawn Staley Leadership Award at halftime. … Sun vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said the team has reached out to representatives of European players Alba Torrens and Sandrine Gruda about playing here at some point this season. Sienko said he is awaiting a response.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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