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Atlanta surges in second half for another big road win over Sun in OT

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas (25) gets past Atlanta’s Naz Hillmon (00) in Thursday night’s WNBA game at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sun lost in overtime, 92-88.

UNCASVILLE, June 15, 2023 – The Connecticut Sun may find Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Atlanta Dream at the Mohegan Sun Arena more annoying later in the season if the Sun are battling for a playoff spot or home court advantage in the playoffs.

The Sun had a lead of 10 points in the first half where they scored a season-high 50 points in the first half and had a firm grasp on the game. But Connecticut scored a season-low (for one quarter) 12 points in the third quarter and saw the Dream’s Cheyenne Parker score with five seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Behind season-high 27 points from Allisha Gray and 19 points from Howard, the Dream beat the Sun on Thursday, 92-88 before 4,316 fans. The Dream dropped a 12-point decision to Connecticut on Sunday in Georgia and have rebounded with a 86-79 win over the New York Liberty in Brooklyn on Tuesday and Thursday night’s road win in Connecticut.

The Dream (4-5) snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Sun, beating Connecticut for the first time since 2020.

Connecticut (8-4) wasted a stellar effort from Brionna Jones, who had a game-high 28 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. She was 12-of-17 from the floor and was a force in the paint. Alyssa Thomas, who played 43 of a possible 45 minutes, had a season-high 23 points and a team-leading seven assists. DeWanna Bonner had 20 points.

Jones, Bonner and Thomas scored 71 of Connecticut’s 88 points.

Connecticut’s Brionna Jones (42) tries to get past Atlanta’s Monique Billings in Thursday night’s WNBA game in Uncasville. The Sun lost in OT.

There was a point in the first half when the Sun looked solid with several steals and fast-break opportunities that gave them a 50-40 lead at the half. But in the third quarter, the Dream scored the first 11 points of the third quarter and the game was on.

“We have to get back to being a little more disciplined on the defensive end,” Sun coach Stephanie White said. “We have to be individually, one-on-one, guard our yard and use our help when we need it. We have to execute on both ends of the floor.”

Said Jones, “They just picked up their intensity. We matched it at some points but we didn’t match it for the entire 40 minutes.”

Atlanta took a five-point lead, 78-73 with 1:58 remaining off an inbounds play. Bonner cut the lead to three with a drive to the basket with 1:43 left. Bonner, who sank 10 of 12 free throws, missed a foul shot that would have completed a three-point play.

Thomas came up with a turnover after a bad pass from Howard and hit a jumper at the top of the key with 1:09 remaining to cut the lead to one, 78-77.

Parker missed a shot with 52 seconds left and Jones pulled down the rebound. The Sun missed two shots to take the lead but got the offensive rebounds to keep the ball. Finally, it went to a wide-open Bonner, who hit a three-point shot with 43.4 seconds left and with Connecticut ahead, 80-78.

Tiffany Hayes had a shot to ice the game with 8.6 seconds left but couldn’t connect on a pull-up jumper. Parker’s baseline drive and basket with 0.5 seconds left sent the game into overtime.

The last time these two teams played an overtime game was 2011.

Baskets from Gray and Parker in the first minute of OT gave the Dream a quick four-point lead. A basket from Thomas cut the lead to two with 3:51 remaining but that is as close as the Sun would get. Connecticut hit only two of 10 shots from the floor in OT.

“Give Credit to Atlanta, they took it to us in the second half,” “White said. “They were the aggressor. They made big plays. They made tough shots when they needed to. They outexecuted us.”

The Sun have a three-game trip on deck. It begins Sunday in Los Angeles with a game against the Sparks, followed by a contest two days later in Seattle and the conclusion of the trip two days later on June 22 in Minnesota.

“We know it’s a long season. This one game out of 40,” said Connecticut’s DiJonai Carrington, who scored 10 points. “We’re not going to harp on it but we know there are things we have to learn from. We’re going to turn the page but we’re not going to sulk about it. We have to play another game in a day.”

Atlanta 92, Connecticut 88, OT
At Uncasville, Conn.
Atlanta (92)
Howard 6-5-19, Coffey 1-0-2, Parker 8-2-19, Gray 10-6-27, Jones 2-4-10, Hillmon 2-0-4, Billings 2-0-4, Durr 3-1-7, Amihere 0-0-0. Totals 36-16-92
Connecticut (88) Bonner 4-10-20, Thomast 10-3-23, Jones 12-3-28, Hayes 1-2-4, Hiedeman 0-0-0, Carrington 5-0-10, Harris 0-0-0, Allen 1-0-3, Nelson-Ododa 0-0-0, Totals 33-18-88
Atlanta (4-5)              20  20  21  19  12  — 92
Connecticut (8-3)     28  22  12  18  8  — 88
Three-point goals: Atlanta (4-14) Howard 2, Parker, Gray; Connecticut (4-16) Bonner 2, Jones, Allen; Att. 4,316

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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