The Connecticut Sun can head into the All-Star break with no worse than being tied for having the best record in the WNBA if they can defeat the New York Liberty at home Wednesday.
Both Connecticut and Las Vegas are 12-6 heading into their final games before Saturday’s All-Star game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The host Aces play Seattle on Tuesday night.
The Sun have reeled off three straight wins since a five-game losing streak and are coming off a 98-69 rout of the Dream on Friday. Bria Holmes scored 17 points to pace five players in double figures for Connecticut, which shot 11 of 26 from 3-point range and won for the 15th time in 16 games at home.
“That’s a nice win for us,” Sun coach Curt Miller told the Hartford Courant. “We played with a lot of energy. We came out of the locker room (after halftime) – we’ve had some really good third quarters – and our defense was once again really good in the third quarter and allowed our bench to play the entire fourth quarter, which we were unable to accomplish in Indiana.
“It’s an excited locker room; we took care of business.”
Connecticut will have a pair of players in Saturday’s All-Star game, center Jenquel Jones and forward Alyssa Thomas. Jones, who is averaging 15.5 points and a league-best 10.2 rebounds, will be a starter on one of the teams – those will be drafted Tuesday night by Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne and Aces forward A’ja Wilson prior to the Aces-Storm game.
New York (8-10) also has a pair of All-Stars in leading scorers Tina Charles (17.4) and Kia Nurse (16.2). Charles will be among the frontcourt reserves as she will make her seventh All-Star appearance, while Nurse – the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft – will be in the starting lineup in her first appearance.
Nurse, who is fourth in the league with 39 3-pointers, only made one Sunday when she finished with 14 points in the Liberty’s 83-78 victory over the Sparks. With Charles enduring a miserable game and going 1 of 13 from the field, New York’s bench came to the rescue with 43 points – including 18 from rookie Marine Johannes – to help end a three-game skid.
Johannes hit four 3-pointers and went 6 of 6 from the field in her third game since joining New York. The guard has gone 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and averaged 11.3 points after helping France advance to play Olympic qualifiers.
“She’s a scorer. We need production,” Liberty coach Katie Smith said. “We need that to happen. We need those in the ballgame to impact the game and give a max effort.”
Connecticut took two of three games between the teams last season, including a 92-77 win at Mohegan Sun in the most recent meeting Aug. 1 as Jones had 21 points off the bench.
(Photo courtesy Connecticut Sun official Twitter account)