Dwanna Bonner had a season-high 21 points, two assists and two steals as the Connecticut Sun won their home opener with an 80-74 win over the Washington Mystics on Sunday in Uncasville.
The Sun (2-0) erased a 10-point deficit to win their second straight game before 7,048 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Brionna Jones scored 15 points with Alyssa Thomas adding 14 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds, including 15 on the defensive end.
“I was really proud of our group,” Sun coach Stephanie White said. “They’re tough. They understand how to make winning plays whether that is one the defensive end, getting a big stop, a critical rebound, a big score. Finding ways to win ballgames. They responded well after Washington came out and knocked us in the month early.”
Washington (1-1) was led by Shakira Allen with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Elena Della Donne had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Natasha Cloud added 13 points.
The Sun also retired the uniform number of WNBA legend Taj McWilliams-Franklin, honoring her contributions to the franchise in her eight-year stint with the team from 1999-2006. She played four years in Orlando and four seasons in Connecticut (2003-06).
The Mystics jumped out to a 24-14 lead over the Sun after the first quarter. The Sun struggled from the floor in the opening ten minutes shooting just 27.8 percent (5-of-18), while the Mystics went 47.1% (8-17) from the field.
Connecticut found their offensive intensity in the second, outscoring Washington, 20-14 in the quarter, to trail by just four at the half, 38-34. Bonner tallied 10 of her 21 points in the second quarter.
The third quarter belonged to the Sun as they outscored the Mystics, 23-20, to cut the lead to one, 58-57. Jones and Thomas each tallied five points in the third quarter to lead the Sun.
Connecticut opened up the fourth quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 67-60 lead with 5:59 remaining in the contest. The Mystics responded on a quick 5-0 spurt to cut into the Sun’s lead, 67-65, with 4:00 to go in the game. However, Connecticut finished the game on a 13-9 run and secured their second straight victory.
McWilliams-Franklin saw her No. 11 raised to the rafters at the Mohegan Sun Arena, joining Margo Dydek (12), Nykesha Sales (42), Katie Douglas (23), Lindsay Whalen (13), and Asjha Jones (15).
“I am surprised and humbled at this amazing honor. I loved my time as a Connecticut Sun and grew as a person and a player,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “Learning that this organization viewed my contributions to this amazing sport as worthy of this type of honor, brings tears to my eyes. I did not have a big name. I did not come from a big D1 school, but I came with big goals and a big work ethic; and that’s what the Connecticut faithful appreciated and cheered for.”
McWilliams-Franklin played at St. Edwards University in Texas where she was the NAIA player of the year in 1993 before beginning her pro career. She played two years in the American Basketball League with Philadelphia before getting selected by Orlando in 1999 when the ABL folded.
She helped the Sun win the Eastern Conference championship twice and reach the WNBA finals in 2005 and 2006. In her eight years with the franchise, she averaged 12.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks in 243 games, starting in all but one game.
As a member of the Sun franchise, she was a five-time WNBA All-Star (1999-2001, 2005 and 2006).
After leaving Connecticut, she played in Los Angeles, Washington, Detroit, New York and Minnesota. She won WNBA championships with Detroit in 2009 and with Minnesota in 2011 before retiring following the 2012 season. McWilliams-Franklin started 33 of 34 games for the Lynx at the age of 40 when she won the title with Minnesota in 2011.
Connecticut 80, Washington 74
At Uncasville, Conn.
Washington (74) Delle Donne 7-4-19, Austin 10-1-21, Cloud 4-5-13, Sykes 1-2-4, Atkins 2-4-8, Hawkins 1-1-3, Zahui 1-0-3, Toliver 1-0-3, Walker-Kimball 0-0-0. Totals 27-17-74
Connecticut (80) Bonner 6-8-21, Thomas 5-4-14, Jones 4-7-15, Hayes 3-1-8, Hiedman 3-0-6, Nelson-Ododa 1-3-5, Allen 2-1-7, Harris 1-1-4. Totals 25-25-80
Washington (1-1) 24 14 20 16 — 74
Connecticut (2-0) 14 20 23 23 — 80
Three-point goals: Washington (3-21) – Delle Donne, Zahui, Toliver; Connecticut (5-18) Bonner, Hayes, Allen2, Harris