By David Siegel
Before the game, the Connecticut Sun turned Tina Charles into a bobble head. During the game, Jones and fellow Olympian Asjha Jones continued their team’s domination of the Washington Mystics.
If Connecticut wanted to erase the bad taste of their previous home game, a loss to the Seattle Storm, no team was a better opponent for them then Washington. Going into last night’s game the Sun had a 23-5 home record against the Mystics, and had won seven straight, dating back to August 2010.
It was a tough, physical game, but in the end the Sun’s two 2012 Olympians, Asjha Jones and Tina Charles, combined with 2008 Olympian Kara Lawson to lead the Sun to an 85-73 victory.
Jones played perhaps her best game of the season, scoring a season high 22 points and adding nine rebounds (five offensive) while Charles contributed 17 points but fell short of her frequent double-double, gathering seven rebounds.
“I think in general, our front line was disappointed in their rebounding [in Tuesday's victory at Washington] and made a concerted effort to keep them off the boards,” said Sun coach Mike Thibault. “Washington relies on getting rebounds to get extra possessions, and we kind of took that away from them.”
The Mystics were led by their frontcourt tandem of Crystal Langhorne and Michelle Snow. They combined for 31 points and 13 rebounds. The duo shot a combined 15-for-18 from the floor. Unfortunately for the Mystics, the rest of the team combined for 15 baskets, but on 45 shots.
The player rotation and substitution patterns seemed disjointed for the Mystics, and the team seemed to struggle, not getting into any kind of flow. Monique Currie, who was cored in the offseason and has been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup, started but only played four minutes in the first half and nine for the game. Shannon Bobbitt, who had been starting at point guard, only played around three minutes for the whole game. Snow and Langhorne were the only consistent performers.
Even considering this, the Mystics kept it close, but the Sun seemed to have answers. In the first quarter, it was Jones and Lawson with six points each; the second saw Jones and Lawson put in six and five, respectively. Lawson was scoreless in the third period, but Jones added eight more, while Allison Hightower and Tan White each scored five. Lawson took over though in the final stanza, hitting 2-of3 shots from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line for eight points in the quarter, while Charles added seven more.
“Oh we knew this team was tough,” said Jones. “In the preseason they whipped our butts. That kind of alters our mindset knowing how tough they can be so I think our team does a good job of living day-to-day.”
The Sun improved their season record to 14-4, and they are 6-0 in back-to-back games. With one game left in the pre-Olympic portion of their season, at Chicago, they have won 7-of-8 on the road, and currently are three games ahead of Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
Washington on the other hand, finds itself at a crossroads. This is a veteran-laden team, one that did not expect to be 3-14 at this juncture of the season, tied with Tulsa for the worst record in the league, and winless in seven road games. They close this portion of the season on Friday with a game at the fifth place New York Liberty on Friday, and a loss would put them in the basement by four games, with a month to try to make some adjustments.
Postgame the Sun gave Jones and Charles an Olympic sendoff, with a huge cake and American flags as the crowd gave them a rousing ovation.
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