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Despite early deficit, Las Vegas runs away from Connecticut – The Collinsville Press
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Despite early deficit, Las Vegas runs away from Connecticut

Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner (24)  to the basket against the Las Vegas’ Angel McCoughtry in Thursday night’s WNBA game in Bradenton, Fla. The Aces rolled pat Connecticut, 99-78. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Connecticut Sun had their moments in Thursday night’s WNBA game with the Las Vegas Aces. But it wasn’t enough to earn a victory as the Aces received a game-high 25 points from Kayla McBride and took advantage of numerous turnovers in a 99-78 win at the IMG Academy in Bradeton, Florida.

The Aces (8-3) were led by McBride, who was 9-of-10 from the floor, 7-of-7 from the free throw line and had three steals. Angel McCoughtry, the former Atlanta shooting star, had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds and a team-leading five assists. A’ja Wilson was force inside for Las Vegas with 21 points and seven rebounds.

Connecticut (5-7) had a 13-0 run in the first quarter to take an early eight-point lead and led by two points after one quarter. But they had trouble slowing down the Aces and 11 turnovers in the second and third quarters doomed Connecticut.

“We were unable to disrupt them,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “Every area you equate with toughness, they won tonight. Their toughness in screening, actions and temp was really good tonight.”

The Sun had seven turnovers in the second quarter as they saw a two-point lead after one quarter evaporate into a 12-point deficit with 2:22 left in the second quarter. Las Vegas’ Dearica Hamby had a steal and a breakaway layup to extend the Aces’ lead to 49-37.

“We hurt ourselves with turnovers which really fueled an already productive (Las Vegas) offense,” Miller said. “We made it even easier for them with some live-ball turnovers.”

Connecticut had won five of their previous seven games before Thursday night.

Brianny January and Alyssa Thomas each had 15 points for the Sun. Thomas had a team-high seven rebounds and a team-leading seven assists. DeWanna Bonner scored 10 for the Sun. All five Connecticut starters – January, Alyssa Thomas, Jasmine Thomas, Bonner and Brionn Jones didn’t play a second in the fourth quarter – saving their legs and energy for upcoming games. The Las Vegas lead swelled to as much as 23 points in the second half.

The Sun return to action on Saturday night when they face New York at 7 p.m. on NESN and the CBS Sports Network.

“No excuses,” Miller said. “It’s our ninth game in 17 days. It is just hard down here in the bubble. You will have nights when you just don’t have it.”

All 12 WNBA teams are living, training and playing games in Bradenton to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We weathered their storm,” Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said. “But we kept plugging away and our rebounding and defense eventually took over. It was really nice to see Kayla McBride have a nice game.”

“This game didn’t shake our confidence,” January said. “We know we were the cause of a lot of those (turnovers) tonight. With some communication and attention to detail, we can clean those things up. We learned from it and we’ll get better.”

Las Vegas took an early 5-0 lead before the Sun ripped off 13 points in a row. Alyssa Thomas drove in for a layup, January hit a three-point shot and a jumper with Bonner picking up a pair of three-point plays as the Sun took a 13-5 lead.

Consecutive three-point shots from January helped the Sun build a 23-15 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter. Las Vegas picked up the pace and cut the lead to two after one quarter, 27-25.

Connecticut’s Kaila Charles corralled an offensive rebound and put it back in to extend the lead to four but Las Vegas scored 24 of the next 32 points in the next seven minutes to take a 12-point lead, 49-37. McCoughtry drove well to the basket and Wilson was strong inside.

Las Vegas’ Danielle Robinson came off the bench and had nine assists in the first half – a new record for most assists off the bench in the first half. “Who comes up with these records anyways?” Laimbeer said. “She did her job as a professional basketball player and gave us a big boost,” he said.

Connecticut cut the lead to 11 points early in the third quarter but could get no closer than that.

NOTES: Every Sun player saw action and scored in tonight’s game. The bench combined for a season-high 32 points. … January got out to a quick start with 11 points in seven minutes for the Sun. She tallied a season-high 15 pointst, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the arc. January also tallied two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. …This is the fourth game of Alyssa Thomas’ career in which she has recorded at least 15 points, seven defensive rebounds and seven assists. … Natisha Hiedemanwho saw action in nearly 12 minutes added eight points off the bench and Bria Holmes also came off the bench to score seven points in nearly 20 minutes of action.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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