Sun end season with hard fought win over equally depleted Fever 82-80 in overtiime
There were more WNBA All-stars on the bench or not in attendance from the two teams involved than were on the court. With Tina Charles, Kara Lawson, Allison Hightower and first round pick Kelly Faris in street clothes, and Tan White dressed but unavailable with a broken finger, the Connecticut Sun defeated the Indiana Fever, who played without Tamika Catchings, Shavonte Zellous and Briann January, who did not travel with the team for various reasons.
It would have been easy for the two teams to “mail it in,” with the Fever already assured of another trip to the playoffs and the Sun playing out the end of a lost season. The seven players for each team that did play, however, did not disappoint the 8,476 in attendance, playing with impressive heart and effort, all the way to the end of overtime.
As a team, Connecticut seemed dead in the water only a few weeks ago, going winless on their West Coast swing followed by Tina Charles choosing to sit out the rest of the season. However, the opposite happened, with Mistie Bass and Renee Montgomery leading the way, the Sun finished with three straight home wins, over three of the four Eastern Conference playoff teams.
Against Indiana, Bass led the way with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while four other Sun players finished in double figures, including Iziane Castro Marques, who had 19 points, capped by two foul shots in the closing seconds of overtime to win the game. Montgomery had 16 points and eight assists, Kalana Greene had 13, and Kelsey Griffin 10.
Karima Christmas led the Fever with a career high 21 points. Katie Douglas in her second game back from injury played 39 minutes, and did struggle from the floor (5-for-14) but had a huge three pointer to tie the game down the stretch.
“The next step is we get back to Indy,” said Douglas postgame, “we come together as a whole unit. We’re the defending champs, we know we have a target, but we’re battle tested and going to get ready to play.”
Fever coach Lin Dunn thought this was a good final regular season game for her team.
“Nothing could have been better for this crew,” said Dunn. “This is a lot of our backups, in a great atmosphere, its great for Katie coming back, our backup point guard played 35 minutes (Layshia Clarendon, actually 39), Karima played the four, so everything we did had a plus for us.”
The Fever playoff opponent will not be determined until the late games on Sunday.
The Sun complete their season 10-24, not what coach Anne Donovan expected at all.
“Not seamless, but I assumed [the transition from Mike Thibault to Donovan at coach] would go a lot smoother than it did.”
Injuries played a big factor as well, she said. Once we lost Kara (Lawson), then Renee (Montgomery) and Tan (White), that’s when it started getting ridiculous.”