Douglas, Ogwumike lead second half surge as Sun dispatch Fever for fifth straight victory
UNCASVILLE, Conn – From worst to first? Maybe not, but the surging Connecticut Sun, after dispatching the Indiana Fever in convincing fashion 89-67 last night, woke up in second place in the Eastern Conference.
At halftime with the Sun leading the Fever 33-29, Katie Douglas had four points and Chiney Ogwumike had not taken a shot. The two were crucial in a third quarter that saw the Sun blow the game open with a 22-2 run (17-0 at one point). Douglas scored 14 and Ogwumike 11 in the quarter, as the Sun hit 67 percent of their shots, and 92 percent from their foul line.
“It was a heckuva game until the third quarter,” said Fever coach Lin Dunn, who was called for a technical foul in a period that also saw Shavonte Zellous receive two technicals that led to an ejection. “We have to learn to keep our poise and composure,” continued Dunn.
After a slow start that saw Indiana jump out to an early lead, Sun coach Anne Donovan sat Ogwumike and center Kelsey Bone for an extended stretch and played Kelsey Griffin and Kayla Pedersen in their place with positive results.
“We subbed in Kelsey and Kayla (Pedersen) and they really got after it defensively,” said Donovan. “They drove their post players up the lane a little more. (Indiana) had to work harder defensively, and it kind of changed the tide.”
Both starting posts responded to the effort of their replacements: Bone with 10 second quarter points in just over five minutes (she finished with 16 for the game), and Ogwmike with the strong second half.
If Donovan hoped to teach her players, it worked. “I think I learned a lot,” said Ogwumike. “I can’t put too much pressure on myself, because I have people like Kelsey Griffin and Kayla Pedersen that come in and do great jobs.”
Ogwumike continued with her praise of former Stanford teammate Pedersen.
“If you call Kayla a role player, she’s not a role player,” she explained. “I played with her at Stanford and I know what she’s capable of. She’s one of those unselfish people that will go out there and have my back. I think today showed that. She gave me a chance to not put too much pressure on myself just because of the foul situation and defensive situation. In the long run, she allowed me to watch the game and see how she defends.”
The Sun have been winning without all-star guard Allison Hightower, who missed her third straight game with a strained left knee. Alyssa Thomas started in her place and scored 10 points and pulled down a game high seven rebounds.
Prior to the game, the Sun honored retiring and newly enshrined Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Dunn with a specially made rocking chair, and a blanket to wrap herself in and stay warm. The blanket, of course, was a Connecticut Sun logo.
“It’s a beautiful rocking chair, so thanks to them, and the fans,” said Dunn. “I have always loved playing here. We have had some great games here, and the fans, they love basketball so I have always like playing here.”