2019 WNBA Preview — Atlanta Dream (2-5) at Connecticut Sun (8-1)

Currently the hottest team in the WNBA, the Connecticut Sun look to extend their franchise-record 12-game home winning streak and record their seventh consecutive victory overall Friday night when they host the Atlanta Dream.

Connecticut (8-1) has the league’s best record and threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the WNBA with its 81-67 triumph over reigning champion Seattle on Sunday. Alyssa Thomas scored 20 points and Shekinna Stricklen added 16 as the Sun pulled away from the Storm in the fourth quarter behind eight points from Thomas in a game-breaking 12-4 burst.

“You just try to take care of the home court,” Thomas told The Associated Press. “We have had a lot of success here and we feed off the energy of the crowd.”

Jonquel Jones, who was named Eastern Conference player of the week for the third week running, chipped in 13 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists for her second straight double-double and sixth on the season. Jones is averaging a career-best 17.2 points and a league-high 12.0 rebounds.

Connecticut, which avenged its last regular-season home loss with Sunday’s victory, has averaged 85 points in its five home wins in 2019 while outscoring opponents by 12 per contest.

Atlanta (2-5) is still struggling to find a rhythm without star Angel McCoughtry but did snap a five-game losing streak with an 88-78 win over Indiana on Wednesday. Tiffany Hayes scored a season-high 28 points as the Dream broke out offensively, registering a season high in points and 3-pointers made (10) while committing just six turnovers.

“I think we were due,” Dream coach Nicki Collen told the team’s official website. “I think we were due for a good quarter. I do think this team still believes. I don’t think we ever lost the locker room. … I think what we’ve battled so far this year is kind of the expectation and the idea of you still have to grind and you still have to make progress every day and compete on every possession. That’s what we’ve done.”

Renee Montgomery contributed season highs of 16 points and nine assists in the victory while also hitting 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Atlanta will be counting on Montgomery to provide that kind of backcourt scoring with Alex Bentley away representing Belarus at the EuroBasket tournament in Serbia.

To fill Bentley’s spot on the roster, the Dream signed Natasha Hiedeman, the 2019 Big East Player of the Year at Marquette who was one of the last preseason cuts by the Sun after being selected 18th overall in the WNBA Draft.

Jones had 17 points and 13 rebounds as Connecticut battled to a 65-59 victory at Atlanta on June 9. Thomas added 12 points and 12 boards as the Sun won despite being held to a season low in points. Hayes and Brittany Sykes scored 14 points apiece for the Dream but were a combined 12 for 37.

(Rachel Banham photo courtesy Connecticut Sun official Twitter account)

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