Looking to avoid their first five-game losing streak in over three years, the Connecticut Sun again attempt to regroup during a Wednesday road matinee versus the Atlanta Dream.
All was going nearly perfect for Connecticut (9-1) until it was steamrolled 93-75 at Chicago on June 23 to open a three-game road swing. The Sun went winless on that trek and were blasted 102-59 by the Washington Mystics on June 29, and things did not go much better Saturday in losing 74-71 at home to Minnesota.
Connecticut was held to 28 second-half points while committing 11 of its 18 turnovers in the final two quarters. Jasmine Thomas scored 16 points but Jonquel Jones, who entered the game averaging a team-best 16.3, was held to five on 2-for-10 shooting.
"Our core group of five starters right now, there's little room for error," Sun coach Curt Miller told the Hartford Courant. "We have to have good nights by them. We've got to get Courtney going and get her in the flow. We've got to get 1/8Jones 3/8 going.
"All of a sudden you look up, and all of your starters are low in points late in the game. ... We need all five starters to play well."
The Sun have not lost five straight since a six-game skid from May 21-June 5, 2016, which was also the last season they failed to reach the playoffs. Courtney Williams has struggled to get going of late, averaging 7.0 points - noticeably off her season mark of 11.1 per contest -- while shooting 26.8 percent (11 for 41) in her last four games.
On the defensive end, they have missed guard Layshia Clarendon, who is likely out for the season with an ankle injury. The Sun have yielded 86.8 points per game during their losing streak, well above their season mark of 76.8 per contest.
Atlanta (3-10) wrapped up a three-game road swing with one win after a 65-63 defeat at Phoenix on Sunday. Brittany Sykes scored 29 points and sparked a fourth-quarter 10-0 burst that pulled the Dream even at 63 with 16.7 seconds to play, but after Britney Griner made two free throws with 3.1 seconds left, Sykes threw a pass that was stolen by DeWanna Bonner.
Sykes, who pulled down 10 rebounds while recording her first double-double of the season, also matched Diana Taurasi's WNBA record for points in a quarter with 22 in the third. She has averaged 16.8 points in her last four games to lift her season average to 12.4.
Though the Sun are going for the season sweep, having won the previous two games between the teams by a combined 16 points, Dream coach Nicki Collen thinks her team might be catching Connecticut at the perfect time between the Sun's slump and the early start time.
"They just gave themselves a good cushion by being 9-1 when they decided to have a four-game losing streak," Collen told the team's official website. "Keeping it close early and really competing with them will go a long way toward them showing the same frustration that they've maybe shown coming off getting hammered by Washington on national TV and then losing a close one to Minnesota. I think it's two teams that badly want to win a basketball game."