Dream hand Sun fifth straight defeat

Atlanta — The Connecticut Sun held the Atlanta Dream to just eight field goals in the second half of Wednesday’s game.

It didn’t do the Sun any good as they struggled even more against the Dream.

Such has been the way things have gone for Connecticut lately. The Sun had a poor first quarter defensively and an awful second half offensively as they lost their fifth game in a row, 78-75, before 3,866 at State Farm Arena.

The Sun (9-6) were on a seven-game winning streak as of June 21 and had the best overall record (9-1) in the WNBA.

Connecticut is now in third place behind the Las Vegas Aces (10-5) and Washington Mystics (9-5).

“I hate it for them because there was a real fight, there was a real competitiveness amongst our gang,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “There was excitement for how well the bench played in the first quarter and kept us in it.

“So, I hate it for them because they did a lot of things competitively that you need to do in order to win games, but we just couldn’t make that big play. We had trouble scoring around the rim at times tonight.”

Jasmine Thomas had 12 points and five steals for Connecticut. Courtney Williams scored a team-high 13, albeit on 4 of 14 shooting.

Jonquel Jones struggled for the second straight game offensively as she missed 10 of 12 shots and finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Jones, who league coaches voted Eastern Conference Player of the Week three times to start the season, shot 2 of 10 for five points in last Saturday’s 74-71 home loss to the Minnesota Lynx.

Shekinna Stricklen was scoreless in 12 minutes as she has cooled off after a torrid run. She made 28 of 53 3-pointers during Connecticut’s seven-game winning streak. She’s made just 5 of 24 field goals during the losing streak.

Elizabeth Williams had 17 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the last-place Dream (4-10) while Tiffany Hayes scored 18.

Connecticut trailed by as much as 29-15 with seconds left in the first quarter. The Dream shot 52.4 percent (11 of 21) in that period.

Reserves Bria Holmes (12 points) and Natisha Hiedeman (10 points) helped the Sun cut the deficit to 43-41 at halftime.

Hiedeman, a rookie claimed off waivers on July 3, scored all of her points in the second quarter. Holmes added seven points. The starters scored just four.

“(Hiedeman) was terrific,” Miller said. “She is a really talented point guard that belongs in this league, I’m proud of her and I think you’re going to see more and more minutes as this season goes along for her, and she’s going to really help us.

“Bria played at both ends of the floor tonight. (She) got herself to the foul line, got herself to the basket. Made timely pull ups and was really, really big for us.”

Jasmine Thomas said, “I felt so excited to see them just play free, bring the energy, (and) turn the game around. The reason the game was as close as it was was because of them. … We wanted to close out that game and win for the bench.”

The Sun couldn’t. Williams made two go-ahead free throws to give the Dream a 63-61 lead with 6 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game.

Alex Bentley sank an open 3-pointer with 2:01 remaining to give Atlanta a 72-67 lead.

Connecticut got within 76-75 after Courtney Williams made her first 3-pointer of the game with 10.5 seconds left.

Bentley added two free throws for a three-point lead and Williams was short on a 3 at the buzzer.

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