August 16, 2010
Sun's playoff hopes dashed
By Ned Griffen
Publication: The Day
Mohegan - The end to the Connecticut Sun season came when Indiana Fever reserve Jessica Davenport came off the bench late in Sunday's game and made three unanswered field goals to give her team a lead it never relinquished.
The dagger was Indiana's Tamika Catchings scoring seven straight points, including a rare 3-pointer immediately after the Sun had cut their deficit to three points.
Yes, Connecticut has three more games left in the regular season, but that's it. It won't be in the playoffs. Again.
Indiana 79, Connecticut 66.
Mohegan Sun Arena will be dark for the second straight postseason.
"It's tough," Sun guard Renee Montgomery said. "You never want your season to end before the season is over. Whenever there's games to play, you want to be playing until the last game of the season, the championship game. Just to know that it's a big game and that we lost, it's tough."
Connecticut coach Mike Thibault, when asked how he felt, said: "Crappy."
The Washington Mystics, who beat the Seattle Storm, 80-71, earlier Sunday, clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when the Sun lost.
"I didn't know how good we'd be or how bad we'd be this year, but I thought we had a chance to get in the playoffs," Thibault said. "Obviously the East is pretty good, and we haven't done what we were supposed to."
The loss spoiled the accomplishments of Connecticut rookie center Tina Charles. She had 18 points and 13 rebounds, setting a league record for most rebounds in a season (368). The previous mark was set by former Detroit Shock Cheryl Ford (363 in 2006).
Charles also set a league record for double-doubles (20). Natalie Williams had 19 for the now-defunct Utah Starrz in 2000.
"It's definitely bittersweet," Charles said. "I think the fact that I was able to come in and do that and get the respect of my teammates and from coaches is great, but we lost and we're not in the playoffs.
"I think the staff here did a great job of getting a collective team to play together, but we couldn't pull it off."
The Sun had one of their worst shooting games of the season before a crowd of 7,915 assembled to honor former star Nykesha Sales and for Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Day. Connecticut shot 31.7 percent.
Somehow, the Sun took a 54-50 lead into the fourth quarter.
Indiana starter Ebony Hoffman fouled out of the game with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game.
Enter Davenport, the second overall pick in 2007. The 6-foot-5 center made an 18-foot jumper with 5:21 remaining to tie it at 63.
Davenport followed with two more jumpers, including one from 17 feet, to push Indiana ahead, 67-63, with under four minutes left.
Davenport shot 5-of-5 for 10 points, eight of which came in the final seven minutes.
Two foul shots by Tan White and a technical free throw by Kara Lawson cut Connecticut's deficit to 69-66.
Catchings answered seconds later with a 3-pointer. She finished with a game-high 26 points along with seven rebounds and seven assists.
"And that's why that kid is one of the greatest players in the history of our game," Thibault said. "Her will to win is incredible. And you look at her box score - that's a winning box score."
Montgomery, who shot 3 of 17, had 12 points, eight assists and five steals. Asjha Jones added 11 points and five rebounds.
"I would say tonight was probably the perfect example of the difference between two teams in their stages of development and maturity," Thibault said.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTES: Over the years the Editior of the Feather News and myself have gone to Connecticut Sun games and cheered for the team as fans. This year we didn't go. The reason it was a bad team with bad coaching. The team just couldn't win.
One Friday Night we went to the casino and watched people leaving five minutes before the game ended, because the Connecticut Sun were losing by over 30 points. The fans saying, why does the coach take out Charles in the third and fourth quarters? They thought the coach should go.
How is this helping business at the Mohegan Sun? What about telebising the the games on national tv (espn)?
A tribal member called and said tribal members want the coach and Mr. Etess gone. What do you think?