Surprising Sun sit atop the Eastern Conference in WNBA
There is no doubt Connecticut is the early surprise of the WNBA season.
The Sun lost Katie Douglas to retirement and Chiney Ogwumike and Allie Hightower to injuries, yet they are sitting tied atop the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 record.
“I think we are (shocking people), but I don’t think we are shocking ourselves,” guard Jasmine Thomas said. “I think that this is exactly what everyone wanted, what we were fighting for and what we were expecting to be doing.”
That said, the Sun will be tested this week as they head West for a three-game swing against the Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury.
“They are long, a lot of travel, aches and pains to deal with but right now when we are playing good, it’s a good time to go to the West Coast,” Thomas said. “The West Coast is always a hard conference, so with the focus we have right now to go there and steal some wins, it will be good.”
The Sun are tied with Washington atop the conference.
The Mystics have been battling injuries with starter Bria Hartley out with a stress fracture in her foot. Kia Vaughn missed Sunday’s win over New York with a concussion. Yet, Mike Thibault’s squad is still finding ways to win, sitting at 3-1.
“I think we should be undefeated,” Thibault said after beating New York. “We gave one away against Atlanta the other night because we did not shoot the ball well. I don’t think there is anything special we are doing against (the New York Liberty), we are just playing pretty good team basketball; particularly on the defensive end.”
Washington held New York to just 59 points to beat the Liberty for a second time this season.
Here are other things to keep an eye on around the league:
ROOKIE STRUGGLES: No. 1 draft pick Jewell Loyd hasn’t gotten off to a good start for the Seattle Storm. She’s averaging 6.3 points, but shooting only 22 percent (9 for 41) from the field, including missing all nine of her 3-point tries. Loyd did have 10 points on Sunday against the Sparks in front of her mentor Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles team owner Magic Johnson. Bryant tweeted “Way to play today #rookie #wnba #MambaJewell” The Lakers star sat courtside with Sparks owner Magic Johnson.
TOUCHING TRIBUTE: The Indiana Fever honored Lauren Hill on Sunday. Hill, who died from brain cancer on April 10 at the age of 19, had an inspirational several months in which she lived her dream of playing college basketball for Mount St. Joseph, a Division III school. At the time of her death, Hill’s work had raised $1.4 million for pediatric cancer research, according to the nonprofit group The Cure Starts Now. The Fever donated $300 to the charity for each layup made by both teams during Sunday’s game — a total of $9,600, a Fever spokesman said. An Indiana jersey with Hill’s name and her number 22 at Mount St. Joseph was laid over a chair on the Fever bench during the game.
STAT OF THE WEEK: After Sunday’s 11-point loss to Tulsa, the San Antonio Stars fell to 0-3, their worst start since going 0-5 to begin the 2005 season. San Antonio visits Tulsa on Tuesday before hosting Minnesota on Friday. The Stars are third-to-last in scoring (67.3) and last in rebounding (29.3).
GOING ABROAD: Tiffany Hayes and Aneika Henry will miss the Atlanta Dream’s next five games to compete at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. The duo will play in a 3-on-3 basketball competition for the host country after gaining Azerbaijani citizenship. Hayes and Henry will miss home games against Indiana (June 16), Chicago (June 19), New York (June 21) and Washington (June 26), as well as a road contest June 24 at Chicago. They will return to action when the Dream hosts Seattle on July 5.
GAME OF THE WEEK: In a matchup of two of the top teams in the East and West, Tulsa visits Washington on Friday night. Skylar Diggins has the Shock (3-1) tied for first and off to the best start since the team moved from Detroit in 2010.
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