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Sun roll over Phoenix for sixth straight win to start season

Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas drives to the basket in Tuesday night’s win over Phoenix at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Photo courtesy Connecticut Sun)

After the smiles and walking off the floor with a 23-point victory over the visiting Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Connecticut Sun are off to a 6-0 start – the best start to a season in franchise history.

Short-handed Phoenix (3-3), who dressed just eight players, shot 23.8 percent from the field and a woeful 1-of-27 from three-point range in a 70-47 loss to the Sun. It’s the worst shooting performance in Mercury history.

For Connecticut, DeWanna Bonner became one of five players in WNBA history to score her 7,000th career point in the victory. Bonner led all scorers with 19 points, three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Only Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi, who scored six points in the loss, Tamika Catchings, Tina Thompson and Tina Charles have eclipsed the 7,000 point barrier.

Brionna Jones added 16 points, three steals and two blocks in 18 minutes of play while Alyssa Thomas added 10 points, pulled down rebounds and dished out eight assists. Everyone on the Sun’s 11-man roster got into the game and every scored at least two points.

For Connecticut, the focus continues to be on September and October.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Sun coach Stephanie White said. “It will take some time. We have a lot of new pieces and have players playing some new roles. We’re still a long way away from where we will be at our best.

“I don’t feel like we have really played 40 minutes of our best basketball at either end of the floor,” White said. “We’ve played stretches where in the fourth quarter we played well enough to win. We haven’t shot the ball particularly well but our defense has given us opportunities for success.”

The Mercury were missing three players including Brittany Griner with a foot injury and former Sun center Rebecca Allen, who is recovering from a concussion.

Natasha Cloud led Phoenix with nine points with Kahleah Cooper and Morgan Bertsch each scoring seven points. Phoenix was averaging 88.2 points a game in their previous five games.

No Mercury player scored in double-figures, marking the first time since 2016 (and 40th overall in league history) that a WNBA team finished a game without a double-figure scorer. Copper ended the game leading the league in scoring with 29.2 points a game.

“None of our starts (in games) have been the greatest. It is taking us a while to settle in but our mentality is if we’re not scoring, they’re not scoring,” Thomas said.

DiJonai Carrington scored just four points for the Sun but she pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds, including six caroms in the first quarter. Olivia Nelson-Ododa had three steals and the Sun had a season-high 23 assists.

The Sun’s 6-0 start ties the 2010 Atlanta Dream for 6th longest win streak to begin the regular season. The Sun are one of 13 teams in WNBA history to start season 6-0 or better.

Connecticut returns to action on Friday night when they host Dallas at 7:30 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

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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