Monday, August 10, 2009


Whalen, Sun stun Mystics.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Mystics’ Nikki Blue, right, fights for a loose ball with the Sun’s Kerri Gardin during the second half on Sunday in Mohegan. Connecticut won the game, 96-67.
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Aug 09, 2009 @ 11:28 PM
Last update Aug 09, 2009 @ 11:33 PM

.MOHEGAN — Only two minutes and 17 seconds of the game had elapsed and Connecticut Coach Mike Thibault called a time out. From the foul line he glared in at his team assembling on the bench, crossed his arms and glanced at the scoreboard.

“I wasn't happy with the start,” he said. “I don't know if that was a hangover from the travel on Friday, but after that it was good.”

In fact, it was very good.

The Sun put together one of their most impressive offensive efforts of the season as all five starters found their way to double figures for a first time this year. The team shot a season high 48.6 percent from the floor and made 36 field goals for a second consecutive game. All of this led to the highest-scoring game of the season for Connecticut as it beat Washington, 96-67.

Thibault later marveled that “it's almost a perfect box score” and it also brought the Sun back into a tie for second place in the Eastern Division with the Mystics.

“We had to beat them,” said Asjha Jones, whose 14 points marked her franchise record 18th straight game with double-digit scoring. “The race is so tight, we're all neck-and-neck fighting for that spot, second and third place.”

Katie Douglas owned the previous mark, set in 2006.

The Sun also had to prove to themselves that they could beat the Mystics after they lost, 82-70, in the season opener to them.

It wasn't a given that would happen early as Washington scored 10 of the first 13 points, five each by Alana Beard and Lindsay Harding to force Thibault to call the early timeout.

“Our game plan was to shut down the middle and they got a couple of drives on their first possessions,” Sun guard Tan White said. “Once we settled down after that timeout, from there on, we shut down the middle.”

Connecticut went on an 11-3 run to tie the game at 14 when Lindsay Whalen—- who led the Sun with 16 points — sank a 3-pointer with 5:13 left in the quarter. The Sun then got another lift when veteran forward Tamika Whitmore came on the floor for the first time in 11 games and sank her first shot 20 seconds later, just beating the shot clock to give Connecticut an 18-16 lead.

“I was like, 'Wow, that went in,'” Whitmore said. “It was a pretty tough shot and after that I was just on a high.”

The Mystics would tie the game one more time as Beard, who was a pest both offensively and defensively in the first half, drove around Erin Phillips to tie the game at 18.

Beard finished with 16 first-half points and three steals, two on Jekabsone-Zogota at mid-court that resulted in two easy fast-break baskets.

She's really quick with her hands, I will need to remember that,” Jekabsone-Zogota said.

Despite the Beard onslaught, Connecticut built an eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter and was challenged only on one other occasion. Six-straight points by Beard in less than a minute chopped Connecticut's lead to two, 36-34, with 4:15 left in the half. But a 3-pointer by Jekabsone-Zogota (15 points), and a free throw and 3-pointer by White (13 points) ended the Mystics’ run.

“As a team, you can't get down when another team makes a shot or two, you have to expect the team will make a run at you at some point of the game,” White said. “I think we stuck together as a team.”

The Sun found the answer to Beard in the second half as they limited her to just two points.

“She didn't get to turn the corner on us as much and tired to keep fresh people on her,” Thibault said.

The Sun maintained a 10-point lead throughout the third quarter and put the game away with a 10-2 run to start the fourth.

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