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Late rally by Sun forces OT but Chicago prevails

Connecticut’s Olivia Nelson Ododa (10) had a career-high 20 points in Sunday’s loss to Chicago.

With All-Stars Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner resting on the bench, the second unit of the Connecticut Sun erased a nine-point deficit in the final 1:28 of regulation to force overtime in Sunday’s WNBA regular season finale against the Chicago Sky at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

But the Sun ran out of gas and didn’t sink a field goal in overtime as the Sky earned a 102-91 victory before 6,377 fans.

The game meant nothing to the Sun in terms of the playoffs. Connecticut long ago sewed up the No. 3 seed in the eight-team WNBA playoffs and knew they would be hosting the first two games of their quarterfinal series.

For the past week, the goal of the Sun has been to play as well as they can to prepare for a playoff run but keep Thomas, the potential MVP candidate and Bonner, their leading scorer (16.9 ppg), healthy and to avoid other injuries.

Connecticut’s DiJonai Carrington played in her second straight game after missing the previous five with a foot injury. Carrington had 12 points while Olivia Nelson Ododa had a career-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and two crucial blocked shots. Tyasha Harris added 18 points.

“We just ran out of gas in overtime,” Sun coach Stephanie White said. “It was important for us to get some quality rest with such a tight turnaround (before the playoffs begin). Now, we have to get locked in and get ready for the playoffs.”

The Sun (27-13) will be hosting No. 6 seed Minnesota (19-21) in their best-of-3 quarterfinal match beginning with a game on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Uncasville. Game two will be Sunday at 1 p.m. and game 3, if necessary, will be back in Minnesota on Sept. 20.

Thomas and Bonner didn’t play a minute of the second half or overtime and Tiffany Hayes played just 3:56 in the second half and overtime.

Chicago led by nine points, 89-90 with 1:28 remaining in regulation. The Sun cut the lead to seven after a Nelson-Ododa layup with 1:01 left. Harris had back-to-back steals that led to a layup with 46.1 seconds to go and a three-point shot with 32.9 seconds left to cut the Sky lead to two, 89-87.

Connecticut made a stop and called a timeout with 15.1 seconds left in regulation. A layup from Carrington fell just short but rookie Leigha Brown grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back up and through the net with 4.1 seconds left to tie the game at 89-89.

In overtime, the Sun went 0-for-9 from the floor as the Sky prevailed.

Former Sun standout and fan favorite Courtney Williams led Chicago with 23 points, 16 rebounds and 13 assists for the second triple double of her career.

With four assists in the game, Thomas finished the regular season with a league-leading 316 assists, a new WNBA single-season record. New York’s Courtney Vandersloot had four assists in a win over Washington Sunday to finish second with 314 assists.

Thomas finished the regular season by leading the WNBA in rebounds (9.9 ppg) and total assists. Vandersloot, who played one less game than Thomas, averaged 8.1 assists a game while Thomas averaged 7.9 in 40 games.

Chicago 102, Connecticut 91, OT
At Uncasville
Chicago (102) Parks 2-5 0-0 6, Alanna Smith 1-3 0-0 2 , Elizabeth Williams 9-15 3-4 21, Courtney Williams 10-14 1-1 23, Mabrey 5-13 1-1 16, Evans 6-12 4-4 18, Hebard 1-2 0-0 2, Kone 2-4 3-4 7, Soule 0-1 0-0 0, Bertsch 3-3 0-0 7. Totals 39-72 12-14 102
Connecticut (91) Allen 3-10 0-0 6, Bonner 1-7 5-5 7, Thomas 2-5 1-2 5, Hayes 3-6 0-0 7, Hiedeman 5-10 0-0 13, Nelson-Ododa 8-11 4-5 20, Carrington 5-14 2-2 12, Harris 6-12 2-3 17, Brown 1-8 2-2 4. Totals 34-83 16-19 91
Connecticut (27-13)        19  24  21  25    2  — 91
Chicago (18-22)               23  18  26  22  13  — 102
Three-point goals: Chicago 12-23 (Parks 2-4, Smith 0-1, C Williams 2-2, Mabrey 5-10, Evans 2-3, Kone 0-1, Soule 0-1, Bertsch 1-1); Connecticut 7-23 (Allen 0-4, Bonner 0-1, Hayes 1-2, Hiedeman 3-6, Carrington 0-3, Harris 3-3, Brown 0-4)

(3) Connecticut vs. (6) Minnesota
Game 1: Minnesota at Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET Wednesday (ESPN2)
Game 2: Minnesota at Connecticut, 1 p.m. ET Sunday (ESPN)
Game 3*: Connecticut at Minnesota, tip TBD, Sept. 20 (ESPN)

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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