UNCASVILLE, Conn., Sept. 18 – The Connecticut Sun close out the regular season with a pair of Eastern Conference games against Indiana and Atlanta but the Sun (23-9) have already clinched the Eastern Conference title and the top seed in the East.
Indiana (20-11) lost to defending champion Minnesota on Monday, 86-79, behind a career-high 29 points from former UConn star Maya Moore, clinching the top spot in the East for the Sun, who will face either Chicago or New York in the best-of-3 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Connecticut and Indiana, who play Wednesday night at the Mohegan Sun at 7 p.m., could each finish at 23-11 but Connecticut would get the top seed due to the fourth tiebreaker – record against teams in the league over .500. The Sun are currently 3-3 against Los Angeles, Minnesota and San Antonio while Indiana is 1-5.
The Sun close out the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 25 against Atlanta at 5 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun. Playoff tickets go on sale Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at the Mohegan Sun box office and online at www.connecticutsun.com.
The Sun went 2-1 on its recent West Coast trip, beating Phoenix and Seattle while dropping a game to Los Angeles.
On Sunday, Connecticut’s Renee Montgomery made two free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining to lift the Sun to a 60-58 win over Seattle, who played without Sue Bird (strained right hip flexor) and Lauren Jackson (strained hamstring). Seattle had a 58-54 lead with 1:22 remaining before Kara Lawson (13 points) hit a three-point shot with 51.5 seconds left.
Tina Charles added 12 for the Sun while Mistie Mills had 11 points and 11 rebounds. All-Star Ashja Jones didn’t play at all on the West Coast swing due to a strained left Achilles tendon.
On late Friday night, the Sun dropped a 93-82 decision to Los Angeles. Charles (21 points, 13 rebounds) returned to the lineup after taking off the game against Phoenix to rest her aching groin. Los Angeles’ Candace Parker scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Sparks. Kristi Toliver added 18 points and Nneka Ogwumike had 17 points and eight rebounds as the Sparks recorded their eighth straight win at home to improve to 14-1.
Backup point guard Renee Montgomery almost single-handedly sparked a Sun rally from 19 points down, completing a four-point play before coming back to hit two more threes in a span of 1:57 seconds. Montgomery scored 11 of her 15 points in the third quarter, sparking a 29-11 Sun run that stretched over seven minutes into the fourth quarter. It was the ninth time in 10 games Montgomery has come off the bench to reach double figures. She has made 27 of her last 48 three-point attempts (56.2 percent) in that span.
The Connecticut bench supplied 35 points against Los Angeles, including eight of the nine threes the Sun made in the game. Tan White was 3 of 5 for 11 points while Montgomery led the bench with 15 points. Danielle McCray had eight points and a pair of made threes. The Sun bench scored 28 of its 35 points in the second half, connecting on a combined 7 of 14 three-point shots.
“I don’t have a feel for where the game got away from us,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “I think it started more with our bad offense than our defense. We don’t have the size to handle all the length of LA right now. Hopefully we’ll be healthy enough to win if we get the chance to play them again.”