Jones, Sun drop two-straight and fall to second place

Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles, left, drives against Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, in Minneapolis. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

After riding an eight game win streak over the past few weeks, the Connecticut Sun are now losers of two-straight games as their road woes continued this past weekend. 

In what could have been their ninth and tenth consecutive wins, the Sun dropped their more most recent contests to the Minnesota Lynx and Las Vegas Aces respectively, August 9 and August 11. 

A five-game break may have knocked Bahamian Jonquel Jones and company out of sync, as the Lynx stormed past the Sun, 89-57 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Jones, who secured four-straight double-doubles in her previous outings headed into that contest, was limited to just eight points, on one-for-three shooting from the field. She made good on all six of her free throw attempts, and collected just six rebounds in the loss.

The entire starting five for the Sun couldn’t find that spark, as guard Courtney Williams finished with just eight points herself. Bria Holmes came off the bench and led the Sun in scoring with 10 points on four-for-13 shooting from the field.

After a sluggish start to the first period, the Sun trailed the Lynx by only 10 points and faced a 24-14 deficit headed into the second period. The offensive struggles continued to pile on for the Sun as they were out-scored 30-11 and trailed the Lynx 54-25 at halftime. 

On a night where the offense simply didn’t flow the Sun shot a collective 30.9 percent from field, and 21.7 percent from the three-point arch. In contrast, the Lynx completed 53.7 percent of their shots, while shooting 50 percent from three-point range. 

On the outcome, head coach Curt Miller said -, “They took us behind the woodshed from start to finish. I take ownership. I think we got out-played and they (Lynx) were more physical and the intensity from the beginning was impressive. 

“But I was also out-coached. Even when we were down 30 points they were attacking our defense schemes better than we were making defensive adjustments. From top to bottom we got out-played and we have to take ownership.”

Miller later disclosed via the Sun’s Twitter account, that injuries are also starting to become a factor for the team. The coach/General Managed added that a number of the players were game-time decisions headed into that contest. 

“We had multiple game-time decision people tonight with ‘knick-knacky’ injuries and I don’t know if that contributed to our focus. But we talked about how impressive Minnesota’s physicality and defense is and we were still caught off-guard and that’s a disappointment.”

It was on to Las Vegas, Nevada that Sunday where the Sun aimed to bounce back against the Aces at the Mandalay Bay Event Center. Ultimately that wouldn’t be the case as the Sun suffered an 89-81 loss. Jones returned to form on the rebounding front collecting 12 rebounds on the night. She finished with just eight points, though, while shooting three-for-11 from the field.

Defensively, Jones provided a spark finishing with three steals and as many blocks on the night. Williams led the Sun in scoring with 13 points, while collecting four rebounds and dishing out four assists. Alyssa and Jasmine Thomas both registered 11 points in the effort.

Still, members of the Aces’ starting five finished in double-digit scoring, all led by Liz Cambage who finished with a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Aces held a slim 43-42 lead headed into halftime. Las Vegas players Jackie Young and Kayla McBride hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half. The Aces eventually out-scored the Sun 27-15 in the third quarter taking a 70-57 lead into the fourth period. 

The Sun charged forward on a 13-3 run, cutting into the deficit to trail the Aces 73-70 thanks to a three-pointer by Bria Holmes with 6:53 to play. But Cambage and Dearica Hamby (12 points) obliterated the Sun’s run as the duo combined to score the next nine points and push the lead to 12 with four minutes left in the game. 

Miller was left most impressed by the play of his bench after the loss. 

“I was really happy with the bench. We came up short tonight but they shot 50 percent from the three-point and just under 50 percent from the field. They executed and did a really good job for us and gave us a spark that we needed. 

“I like what we did in the post-game. When you have shooting post players like Morgan (Tuck) and Theresa (Plasiance) we were able to spread the ball a little bit more with that unit. They weren’t perfect but it was a really good night off the bench.”

Two-straight losses left the Sun sitting in second place at 16-8 as they were overtaken by the Washington Mystics who hold a 17-7 record as the new first place team in the league. 

The Sun will look to Wednesday, August 14 as an opportunity to re-start their winning ways when they take on the Phoenix Mercury, televised live on ESPN 2 at 10:00 p.m. That game will end the Sun’s current four-game road trip as they will be back at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, August 16 to take on the Seattle Storm at 7:30 p.m. available on League Pass and NESN-Plus (+). 

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