Mohegan Sun—The Connecticut Sun seems to be clicking on all cylinders the last few games. They are getting everyone involved in the offensive mix of the game.
Since that emotional night two weeks ago, the Indiana Fever have lost four straight as they fell to the Sun, 88-69, Wednesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Sun becomes the first eastern conference team to reach 10 wins this season, while the Indiana Fever sits at 3-11 heading into Friday night competition.
“I was a rookie once and I understand that there’s a lot being thrown at them, offensively, defensively, new terminology, schemes,” Danielle Robinson said. “So I mean it’s frustrating to lose for sure, but I think that they’re getting more and more comfortable every single game, knowing personnel, knowing what they need to do. Obviously, it’s not resulting in wins right now, but there’s a level to it. I’ve been in the league, I know the players, I know almost any term any coach or team has thrown at me from my experiences and they’re just not there yet.
“We’re asking them to grow up very, very fast and I think that they’re trying. But I’m proud of how far they’ve come in the time that I’ve been here. We’ve just got to keep pushing them along to get them to where we need to be.”
The Sun (10-3) put on a offensive showcase, with five players scoring more than 10 points. Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones had 18 and 16 points, respectively. The team shot 47%, but the biggest offensive difference was from the charity stripe line.
Connecticut attempted 27 shots from the line, making 21 of them while Indiana had half the opportunities. Jonquel Jones was 7-of-9 from the free-throw line while Brionna Jones was perfect with four attempts.
Fever rookie forward NaLyssa Smith led all scorers with a career-high 19 points on a career-high eight made field goals. Smith has now scored at least 10 points in eight out of the 10 games she has played this young season.
Indiana guard Danielle Robinson and center Queen Egbo also reached double digits with points with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams struggled from downtown, the Sun shot 53 percent on two-point field goals. In a battle of two of the three top offensive rebounding teams entering Wednesday night contest, Indiana had a difficult time keeping the Sun off the boards as Indiana was out-rebounded 41-29 in the third of four meetings between the two clubs.
“I feel like we don’t make our presence known throughout the game, especially defensively,” Robinson said. “People are able to get what they want. That’s a little bit frustrating because we talk a lot about what we want and what we need to do and whenever we play, it’s just not translating to the court. So that’s something we need to get figured out or we’re going to keep having the same result. We just have to make our presence known, we have to be more physical, we have to break things up and make it hard for people to get what they want. And I think then we’ll find some success.”
Indiana went back and forth with Connecticut in the first quarter, matching their intensity and pace on both ends of the court and was only down by 11 at the break (48-37).
The Fever played their best third-quarter defense on Wednesday, forcing three-straight turnovers at one point, but the offense couldn’t score at all. Despite being the league’s third-best 3-point shooting team, Indiana hit just one deep ball through 30 minutes.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Fever continued to apply defensive pressure, forcing a couple more turnovers and staying within 10 points of the Sun. But after Joyner Holmes hit a 3-pointer around the halfway mark of the quarter to create a 13-point lead, the Sun cruised to a win.
DeWanna Bonner added 12 points and Alyssa Thomas had 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Sun.
Bonner moved into a tie for 17th in the WNBA history for 3-pointers after a make early in the third quarter.
“That was a win for us, because we have talked about winning the third quarter or at least having a solid third,” head coach Carlos Knox said. “So we’re building, we’re building on it. And they understand it, they really look forward to challenging themselves in the third and that was something good for us. Connecticut is obviously a goo team, so we have to consistently keep that energy and that focus up through the entire game.”
The Fever shot just 37.5% from the field, including 3 of 21 from beyond the arc.
After a three-game road trip, Indiana is back home on Friday to host the New York Liberty.