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Tired Sun start quick and pull away from Indiana for ninth win of season

Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones (35), shown earlier this season against Washington, had a season-high 21 points in the win over Indiana on Wedensday in a brief one-game homestand.

The Connecticut Sun came home to the Mohegan Sun Arena to catch their breath on a brutal road trip. The Sun are in the midst of a four-week road trip around the country with nine games in seven different cities.

Just 24 hours after playing Washington, the Sun were entertaining the lowly Indiana Fever in their first home game since June 13. Since that win over the Mystics, the Sun had played five games on the road in 12 days with a pair of back-to-back contests.

Last night, Chiney Ogwumike and Jonquel Jones each scored 21 points as Connecticut (9-6) brought home a victory for just the second time in the last six games with a 101-89 victory over the struggling Fever in Uncasville.

The Sun head back out onto the road shortly with another four games in just six days. They play at Seattle on Sunday, July 1 followed by games at Los Angeles (July 3), Phoenix (July 5) and New York (July 7). Seattle (10-5), Los Angeles (11-3) and Phoenix (11-5) have the top three records in the WNBA.

The WNBA season is about four weeks shorter this season because of the upcoming World Championships in Spain in late September (22-30).

“It’s not easy to win on a back-to-back (days), (playing) home and away, (against a) first place team (Washington), last place team (Indiana),” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “That’s our fourth game in six days and playing a back-to-back when the morning started for most of us with 4 a.m. wake-up (call). I’m proud that we mustered up the energy to get the game up-tempo. Offensively, we did a lot of good things. There’s still a lot to work on. I just need to go to bed after that.”

The Sun caught a commercial flight early this morning from Washington to Hartford.

The Sun had energy early. Connecticut scored the first 11 points of the game, sparked by a pair of three points from Shekinna Stricklen and a three-point play from Jasmine Thomas. The Sun led 30-12 late in the first quarter and had a 24-point lead midway through the third quarter before Connecticut began to fade.

Indiana (1-14) had a 14-point run to cut the lead to 10 points. They got it down to nine but couldn’t get much closer. After cutting the lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter, Connecticut scooted away on a 13-4 run to re-establish command.

Ogwumike had 10 rebounds while Jones had a career-high five 3-point shots. Courtney Williams (13 points, six rebounds, four assists), Stricklen (12 points) and Jasmine Thomas (10 points, six assists) contributed to a balanced scoring attack as Connecticut made a season-high 13 three-pointers.

“Every game is an opportunity for us to get better, and I think that this game, we came in knowing that there are no excuses.” Ogwumike said. “We’re professionals and we had to get this win. It’s a professional win, a back-to-back, two cities, different nights. I think we really cherish being back in front of our fans and using that energy.”

Jonquel Jones, who did not score in the win over Indiana on Sunday, collected a season high of 21 points against the Fever. Jones also had a career best of five made three pointers and six attempts from the three-point arc. Jones also dished out a season high five assists.

“I think in practice, it was coming together really well,” Jones said. “In shootaround, I felt like I was shooting it well, but in the game it just wasn’t going through for me. I just want to trust the process. My teammates have been awesome. They’ve been picking me up all the way so it feels awesome.”

It was satisfying considering that the Sun coughed up a 13-point lead last Friday in a 75-70 loss in Atlanta. On Tuesday night, Washington used a 20-4 run to turn a one-point Sun lead into a 15-point deficit after three quarters in a 92-80 loss. The Sun led early in that game, too, 19-8.

And the Sun have played their last six games without starting forward Alyssa Thomas, who injured her shoulder against Washington on June 13. She is day-to-day. Thomas is averaging 12.0 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.

Victoria Vivians led the Fever with a career-high 25 points and tied a career-high with five 3-pointers. Kelsey Mitchell (15 points) and Candice Dupree (14 points) also contributed.

With the victory, the Sun swept the three-game series from Indiana.

The Sun return home to host New York on Wednesday, July 11 at 11:30 a.m.

NOTES: The Connecticut Sun scored a season high of 52 points including seven 3-point field goals in the first half. … Victoria Vivians finished with a career high of 25 points to go 10-of-14 from the field. The rookie also matched a career high of five made 3-pointers and five rebounds. In addition, the guard had a career high of three steals.  … Indiana’s rookie duo of Vivians and Tiffany Mitchell combined for eight 3-pointers, matching the most by any rookie duo in the WNBA since 2009 and equaling their own feat, accomplished on June 16 vs. Atlanta.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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