Connecticut pulls away from struggling Lynx in second half
Uncasville, Conn. Lindsay Whalen was honored on the road prior to the game, but that was about the lone highlight for the Lynx.
Minnesota let an opportunity to improve its WNBA playoff position slip away in the second half of a 96-79 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Friday in front of an announced 7,089 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Six-foot-6 Jonquel Jones scored 26 points, which included 5-for-7 on 3-pointers to lead the Sun (20-13), who finished with four players in double figures. Sylvia Fowles scored 25 points with eight rebounds for the Lynx (17-16), while Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus each had 12. Cecilia Zandalasini finished with 10.
Connecticut, which had won seven of the last eight, entered the game tied for fourth place with the Los Angeles Sparks. The Lynx were in seventh place, a game behind sixth-place Phoenix. Minnesota, which closes with Washington on Sunday at home, had lost two straight and five of the past seven.
It was a homecoming for the retiring Whalen, who began her career with Connecticut after being drafted in the first round by the Sun in 2004 out of the University of Minnesota.
Whalen did not start, but was honored briefly before the game by the Sun, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Whalen is leaving professional basketball to become the head coach at her alma matter after the season.
Augustus gave Minnesota a 48-47 lead at 8:30 of the third quarter, but the Sun answered with a 9-2 run to move in front 56-50 with 5:19 remaining, Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve called timeout to cool off the Sun, but Minnesota, which trailed 72-67 after three quarters, never regained the lead.
Former University of Minnesota star Rachel Banham came off the bench for Connecticut and scored all four of her points in the quarter. Jones made four of her 3-pointers in the second half.
The Lynx led 46-43 at the half behind Fowles 16 points and 14 from Moore. Tied at 43, Moore went to the line and made a free throw after Miller was hit with a technical foul for arguing with the referees.
Augustus, who also received a technical earlier in the quarter, made two foul shots with 28 seconds left to make it a three-point game.
Layshia Clarendon led Connecticut at the break with 10 points.
Fowles scored 14 points, including 10 straight, in the first quarter to give the Lynx a 28-22 lead. However, she went to the bench with two fouls with 24 seconds left.
Minnesota as 14 of 17 from the field in the quarter.
Connecticut started fast with a 4-0 lead on two Alyssa Thomas baskets.
Minnesota hung around, shooting 14 of 17 from the field, and after Courtney Willams gave the Sun a 19-16 led, Fowles scored all 10 points on a 10-2 run.
The Sun played without starter Chiney Ogwumike due to soreness in her right knee. Rebekkah Brunson (concussion) and Danielle Robinson (ankle) sat for the Lynx.