UNCASVILLE, Conn., Sept. 23 – Guard Kara Lawson had 21 points and set a new franchise record for three-point shots in a single season as the Connecticut Sun closed out the regular season with a 92-72 win over the Atlanta Dream in front of 9,173 fans Sunday.
The Sun (25-9) won the Eastern Conference and finished with the No. 2 record in the league. Connecticut will face the New York Liberty in the best-of-3 Eastern Conference semifinals beginning on Thursday at Mohegan Sun.
Tina Charles had 17 points and nine rebounds for Connecticut, finishing the season as the top rebounder in the WNBA, averaging 10.5 caroms a game. She also set a team record for highest average points per game at 18.0 ppg, breaking her own record of 17.6 points set a year ago. Mistie Mims had nine points and five steals, and Kalana Greene scored 12 points for Connecticut, which never trailed.
“We shared the ball, we had 21 assists,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “For the most part our defense was good. We’re closer to being where we were before the break. It just felt better today.” Lindsay Harding scored 16 points while Erika de Souza added 13 points and eight rebounds for Atlanta (19-15).
Lawson drained 74 three-point goals this season, snapping the old mark of 73, set by Katie Douglas in 2006. Lawson pledged to donate $50 for each three-point shot to the Pat Summitt Foundation in honor of her former coach at the University of Tennessee to help raise funds for Alzheimer’s disease. The Sun has also pledged $50 for each three-point shot Lawson makes.
“For me, I think the 3 pointers from the beginning of the year have taken on extra meaning because of coach Summitt and what I decided to do to try to help raise money,” Lawson said. “From that perspective to not only set a franchise record, but I think it was my most makes in my career in a season too. It’s pretty cool to do it in a year where I’m trying to raise as much money as I can.”
All-Star Ashja Jones played in her second WNBA game since July 11 when she straining her left Achilles tendon when Washington center Michelle Snow accidentally stepped on her foot. Jones, who had limited playing time with the gold medal winning U.S. Olympic team in London, played 11 minutes and scored four points against Atlanta.
“I think my teammates did a good job of finding me when I was open,” Jones said. “They didn’t try to force anything. I was just trying to get into the flow throughout the game. We just wanted to come out and be aggressive. We had a lot of fans in the building and we just wanted to play hard and give everybody a good show.”
AROUND THE RIM: With the victory, Connecticut takes the regular season series versus the Dream 3-1. Connecticut becomes the first Eastern Conference team to win the season series against every conference opponent since the WNBA went to a 34-game schedule, joining Western Conference teams Seattle (2010) and Minnesota (2011). Connecticut was 5-0 against Washington, 4-1 against New York, and 3-1 against Atlanta, Chicago and Indiana. … It is the third straight season that Charles has won the WNBA rebounding title, beating out Fowles in each of the three seasons. …. With 12 points, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry clinched the WNBA’s scoring title. She finished the regular season with an average of 21.4 points per game (514 points, 24 games). The Mercury’s DeWanna Bonner finished second with 20.6 points per game (660 points, 32 games).
Eastern Conference semifinals (best of 3)
Connecticut vs. New York
Thurs. Sept. 27: New York at Connecticut, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sat. Sept. 29: Connecticut vs. New York (Newark NJ), 7 p.m., NBATV
Mon. Oct. 1: New York at Connecticut, 7 p.m., if necessary, NBATV
Atlanta vs. Indiana
Fri. Sept. 28: Atlanta at Indiana, 7, ESPN2
Sun. Sept. 30: Indiana at Atlanta, 4, ESPN2
Tue. Oct. 2: Atlanta at Indiana, TBA
Western Conference semifinals (best of 3)
Seattle vs. Minnesota
Fri. Sept. 28: Seattle at Minnesota, 9, ESPN2
Sun. Sept. 30: Minnesota at Seattle, 9, ESPN
Tue. Oct. 2: Seattle at Minnesota, TBA, ESPN2
Los Angeles vs. San Antonio
Thurs. Sept. 27: San Antonio at Los Angeles, 10, ESPN2
Sat. Sept. 29: Los Angeles at San Antonio, 3, NBATV
Mon. Oct. 1: San Antonio at Los Angeles, 10:30, NBATV