Connecticut continues freefall in WNBA's Eastern Conference
NEW YORK (AP) After a great start to the season with seven wins in their first eight games, the Connecticut Sun have fallen back to the pack in the Eastern Conference.
Connecticut dropped its sixth straight game Sunday, losing to Washington 89-82. The Sun are now in fifth place in the East after spending the first few weeks of the year at the top of the standings.
''It's a roller-coaster kind of season. And we started off in a peak and we are in a valley,'' Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. ''We walk out of that game, everyone is disappointed by a loss, but are we competing? Yes.''
Not much was expected from the Sun this season with rookie of the year Chiney Ogwumike sidelined for the season after having microfracture surgery on her knee in the offseason. Connecticut also lost Allie Hightower and Kelsey Griffin to injuries. The Sun have the youngest roster in the league, with their players averaging 24.8 years. Tulsa is the only other team with an average under 26 in the league.
Unlike last season when the Sun started 8-6 before falling apart with seven losses in eight games, Donovan has faith in this year's team.
''We got fighters in there. So there's nobody content with some of the little things we didn't execute down the stretch,'' Donovan said. ''We just have to keep plugging away, we just have to keep working at it, and it will turn around.''
With the exception of a 20-point loss in Chicago, Connecticut has either had the lead or been within a basket in the fourth quarter of every game during its skid.
''We are right there and no one has given up,'' Sun guard Jasmine Thomas said. ''We will get it straightened out.''
Here's a look at other things happening in the WNBA:
TRAVEL TROUBLE: It wasn't a good travel weekend for the Indiana Fever.
Friday night, they lost to Washington by 18 points. They were supposed to play the Sun on Saturday night, but airport delays didn't allow the team to get to Connecticut.
The league decided to postpone the game until July 28 and Indiana spent an extra night in Washington. The Fever then traveled to San Antonio for Tuesday's game on Sunday. After spending 8 1/2 hours in the airport on Saturday, it didn't get much better with the trip to Texas. After a relatively uneventful trip to Atlanta for a layover, the Fever sat on another plane for 2 hours before finally getting to San Antonio 12 hours after their day started.
All told, the Fever spent 21 hours in airports over the weekend.
STAT OF THE WEEK: After a last-second victory over Phoenix, New York is sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference and off to its best start since 2001. The Liberty have already ended losing streaks to San Antonio and Phoenix that dated back a few seasons. The Liberty continue a road trip out west with games against Seattle and Los Angeles before the All-Star break.
SIDELINED STAR: Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee and will be sidelined for at least a month.
Augustus averaged 15.4 points in 13 games this season and was named an All-Star starter this week. Even without their star, the Lynx have gone 2-0, beating Chicago on Friday and then topping Tulsa on Sunday. Minnesota (12-3) is sitting in first place in the Western Conference.
GAME OF THE WEEK: All-Star Game on Saturday. The best of the best in the WNBA will get together in Connecticut. The East won a thrilling overtime contest last season with rookie Shoni Schimmel earning MVP honors. Atlanta's guard is once again a starter for the East.
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