UNCASVILLE, July 11 – They were at home after playing nine of their last 10 games on the road. Foward Alyssa Thomas was back in the lineup after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury along with guard Courtney Williams, who missed the last four games for personal reasons.
Things would be just fine for the Connecticut Sun, right?
It’s wasn’t that easy. Shavonte Zellous banked in a three-point shot at the buzzer to lift the New York Liberty to a 79-76 WNBA victory over the Sun Wednesday afternoon before a matinee crowd of 7,413 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Liberty (6-14) sank two three-point shots in the final 24 seconds to steal the win. Epiphanny Prince (15 points) tied the game at 76-76 with a three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining. New York outscored Connecticut 10-2 in the final 2:34 of the contest as the Sun missed three of their final four shots from the floor.
Connecticut (10-10) lost for the ninth time in the last 12 games – even with Thomas and Williams back in the lineup. Williams had 16 points and a team-high five assists while Thomas had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of action.
Chiney Ogwumike led the Sun with 17 points and also had eight rebounds and three steals on 8-of-11 shooting. It was the seventh time this season she has led or tied for leading scorer on the team.
In her first game with the Sun, Layshia Clarendon was 3-of-4 from the field for seven points with three rebounds. She was acquired by trade from Atlanta on Monday for guard Alex Bentley.
“A lot of learning lessons for us throughout the game tonight, trying to infuse two players back into the lineup and back to the conundrum of what combinations of players are playing well together and who isn’t,” Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said.
Former UConn and Sun star Tina Charles led New York with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Zellous added 14.
Even at this point of the season with 20 games in the books and 14 remaining, the Sun are looking for the right combonations on the floor.
“It’s something we have talked about, about not having enough time to practice and really being able to switch up combinations and practice, but honestly that’s also how we’ve been playing the whole season, too,” Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas said. “It’s kind of been two teams, you have the bench and the starters, so it needs to be some kind of mixture of that going on during the game in order for us to get comfortable playing with each other all the time. We’ve got great minutes from everybody all season so it’s just trying to figure out how to keep that consistent even when minutes are fluctuating.”
Connecticut appeared to take control of the game when Rachel Banham hit a three with 2:50 remaining to make it 74-69. The Sun were still in position to close out the Liberty when Jasmine Thomas (12 points) made it 76-73 with 1:07 left.
But the Sun missed a couple of chances to score in the final minute, and Prince hit the three to tie. Jasmine Thomas missed a three with 4.3 seconds left, and New York called timeout with 1.8 seconds left, setting the stage for Zellous.
The Sun return to action on Friday night when they host the Phoenix Suns at 7 p.m. for Pride Night.