Connecticut Sun rally to beat Chicago

UNCASVILLE >> Perhaps it is the fact that the Connecticut Sun started three second-year players or had five of its reserves making their debuts with the team, but there were vibes coming from the bench that haven’t been felt in quite some time.

A season ago, the bench players might howl at a questionable call but there wasn’t always a feeling of exuberance when the game was under way. That clearly wasn’t the case on Tuesday night as the Sun rallied for an 81-72 win over Chicago before a crowd of 2,872 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

“We are without question the youngest team in the league and (under) new leadership,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “Camille (Little), your only 30-plus year old on the roster (was traded) so the team is truly Jasmine and Alyssa Thomas’ team and with Chiney (Ogwumike) out so they are getting to lead and really taking them under their wing. You can hear them cheerleading, you can hear them leading.

“There are going to be some tough nights ahead of us for as young as we are and still not completely healthy but after our trade last year (when Kelsey Bone was traded and Courtney Williams acquired by the Sun), our culture on the bench and in the locker room is about as good as I can ask. We will have our moments, we will have our own things that will pop up during the season but I love how they care for each other and believe in each other. I am not promising a win total but I am promising we are going to lay it on the line every night. Some nights we are going to stink it up, some nights we are going to put it together.”

Connecticut definitely put it together in the fourth quarter.

Danielle Adams had nine of her game-high 12 points in the final quarters while Jennifer Hamson had two of her six blocked shots during that span as Connecticut outscored the Sky 23-11 to emerge with the win.

“We had a lot of people making plays for each other and scrambling on the floor,” Hamson, who played 25 games for Los Angeles as a rookie in 2015 but did not play in the WNBA last season. “It was awesome.”

Adams also wasn’t in the league a season ago but a member of the 2011 WNBA All-Rookie team who had 176 3-pointers in 155 regular-season games with San Antonio, shows that she still has the touch from outside as in a span 89 seconds she hit a pair of 3-pointers and narrowly missed a third.

“I just came in and do what I do, hit some 3s,” Adams said. “Coach drew some plays up and I just executed. After the first one, I didn’t know if I was going to be hot or not so I shot the second one. I just had a good fourth quarter.”

Jonquel Jones, Morgan Tuck, Alyssa Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen had eight points each for Connecticut which played without injured guard Alex Bentley.

Tamera Young and Keisha Hampton had 11 points each for Chicago which was without Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot and rookie Alaina Coates.

The Sun will be playing all season without Ogwumike, who tore her Achilles’ tendon while playing overseas and there’s no telling how many victories Connecticut will end up with when the games start counting but clearly putting together a team that plays hard and has a solid locker room is something that Miller has been able to put together.

“We are close off the court so you can see on the court how close we are,” Alyssa Thomas said. “I am really proud of this team we are supporting each other and it is going to be a different season this year.

“It is just more about learning, playing together and learning our system. It is always good to get a win but we still have a lot to work on.”