Sun survive late woes to snap Fever’s streak
By MATT STOUT
Posted Jul 19, 2009 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Jul 20, 2009 @ 12:28 AM
MOHEGAN — After breaking down the Connecticut Sun’s problems in front of her locker Sunday, Tan White exhaled and quickly laughed.
“But it’s over with,” the guard said.
This was a victory, mind you. A really good one, too.
Yet, for all the Sun did well in snapping the Indiana Fever’s franchise-record 11-game winning streak, 67-61, before 6,517 at Mohegan Sun Arena, every where they turned, there was a “but ...”
And after that, there was a turnover.
“I told our players ... you’re supposed to be happy after every win,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “NBA coaches say the season’s too long not to enjoy every win. But that one was hard to watch.”
The Sun (8-6) committed a season-high 26 turnovers, including a franchise-worst 13 in the fourth quarter to help spur a furious but albeit fruitless Fever (11-3) rally. Up by as many as 20 points with 4 minutes, 53 seconds to play, the Sun failed to hit another field goal and watched their lead shrink to four, 60-54, after a 14-0 Indiana run.
The performance tied the team record for turnovers, matching their sloppiness from July 15, 2006 against Sacramento, and fell just one short of the franchise record set in 2000 against Cleveland when the team was the Orlando Magic.
But thanks to 15 points and eight rebounds from Lindsay Whalen, 12 points from Asjha Jones and an oppressive defense that held Indiana to 29 percent shooting, Connecticut survived, ending the league’s longest win streak since the Sun ran off 12 straight in 2006.
They now have won three straight overall, matching their season-best.
“We played so great for long stretches and to have a last seven minutes like that was almost unfathomable, certainly embarrassing and I hope that it never happens again because I don’t know if I can sit through another one of those,” Thibault said. “Actually I didn’t sit. I stood. ... We should start autographing for people we hit (with passes) in the stands. It’s terrible.”
Most curiously, the Sun entered the game leading the league in fewest turnovers (12.5 per game). Their lack of poise helped lead to 29 Fever points, nearly half their total.
“We had open looks, the looks we had taken in the first half and even in the third quarter,” Jones said of the final stretch. “But we were trying to run the clock out and held on to it, and that just gave them opportunity to trap more. So from there, they have some good players, some aggressive players, and they made plays.”
Not enough, though. Ebony Hoffman and Katie Douglas each scored 15 points, but Tammy Sutton-Brown, after notching 14 points and 14 rebounds in the teams’ first match-up, was visibly bothered by the 6-foot-4 Sandrine Gruda (10 points, nine points).
Erin Phillips added 11 points for Connecticut, and Amber Holt notched a season-high nine while playing stellar defense on Indiana forward Tamika Catchings, who finished 2-of-12 from the floor with five points, five rebounds and a technical foul.
The Sun also continued their rise from their season-long shooting slump, making 42 percent from the field, their best work coming in their ball movement around Indiana’s persistent double-teaming.
Everything seemed to work in the third quarter, where they reeled off a 10-0 run and made 56 percent of their shots. Up, 44-36, with roughly four minutes left in the frame, they constructed a 16-4 stretch in which Indiana went 8:34 without a bucket.
Then they turned the ball over eight times in roughly four minutes before making 7-of-8 free throws in the final 23 seconds to avoid the amazing collapse.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve lost a game (since June 7),” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. “There is no such thing as a good loss, but the thing about this game for us is we knew we weren’t going to win every game this season.”
Around the rim
- Second-place Connecticut trimmed Indiana’s lead atop the Eastern Conference standings to three games.
- Tamika Whitmore, rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on her right knee, shot jumpers on the Mohegan Sun Arena floor prior to the game. She is expected to miss the next two weeks.
- The Sun made 18 of 20 free throws, including their first nine. They already boast three games in which they were perfect from the foul line, one short of the league record.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Katie Douglas (Indiana Fever) was not on her game, she missed a lot of three point attempts. Erin Phillips and other Connecticut Sun players evidently did a good job of guarding her.
The fever lost by six (6) points, but they also, I believe had two (2) technical fouls, that Lyndsay Whalen, shot and made both free throws.
It was a great win, but it could have been a loss. At one point in the fourth Quarter, the Sun was up by twenty points, and in the end the Fever got it to six points.
There were 6,517 in attendance, which is down from last year's attendance numbers. Good job, Sun. Go Sun, go. What do you think?