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WNBA: Sun suffer first defeat of the season, losing 82-75 to the Liberty

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – The Connecticut Sun’s undefeated start to the 2024 WNBA season ended Saturday with an 82-75 loss to the Liberty.

Connecticut led after three quarters but was outscored 25-15 in the fourth. A three-pointer by Tyasha Harris cut the gap to one point and New York was up 76-75 with just under two minutes left, but Jonquel Jones (22 points, 4 of 7 threes) answered with a three-pointer of his own to put the Liberty ahead by four points. Connecticut – which stagnated offensively in the final quarter – failed to score another point for the rest of the game, and a layup by Sabrina Ionescu extended the lead to six points with 43 seconds left.

It was the Sun's first meeting with the Liberty since they eliminated them in the WNBA semifinals last year, and once again the Liberty emerged victorious. New York's victory means they will represent the Eastern Conference in the Commissioner's Cup Championship on June 25.

“I don't think we expected to go through this season undefeated,” Sun head coach Stephanie White said. “Obviously we want to win the games we're supposed to win, and when you have an opportunity to play a team that's been where you want to be, you want to take advantage of it. We didn't do that tonight, so we just rebooted. We're looking at the video again. We see the areas where we slipped up. We're addressing that, correcting it and coming out and moving on.”

Alyssa Thomas finished the night with 10 points (5 of 11), 12 rebounds and seven assists, while DeWanna Bonner had 16 points and eight rebounds. Four other Sun players – Brionna Jones (13 points), Tyasha Harris (11 points), DiJonai Carrington (12 points) and Tiffany Mitchell (12 points) – all scored in double figures.

The Sun, one of the worst three-point teams in the league, made just 4 of 16 three-pointers and 40.8 percent from the field overall. New York made 9 of 25 three-pointers and 51.7 percent from the field. “I don't think we got any stops late in the game,” Carrington said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers and unforced errors. We just didn't get good shots.”

For the Liberty, Sabrina Ionescu led with 24 points (8 of 16) and Jonquel Jones added 22 points (9 of 14). Breanna Stewart added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Betnijah Laney-Hamilton added 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Ionescu also became the fastest player in WNBA history to make 300 3-pointers in her career.

The Sun, who dropped to 9-1 this year, still top the league table and made it clear they are keeping defeat in mind. “Nobody likes to lose, we're competitors,” Carrington said. “Whoever we play every night, we want to go out and beat them. For us as a team, it's not the end of the world. It's a 40-game season. We didn't think we would get to 40-0.”

Still, she made it clear that the Sun believe they should have the advantage in future meetings, even though the Liberty have had the edge in recent encounters. “Of course it hurts because we think we are the better team and we wanted to win, like we do every night.”

White said fourth-quarter offensive slumps slowed the team. “At the end of the day, when you're competing for a championship, when you're playing against great teams, it's all about consistency for 40 minutes,” she said. “40 minutes is about tough plays. 40 minutes is about discipline. 40 minutes is about details. 40 minutes is about effort on multiple levels, and we didn't get to play for 40 minutes tonight, they did.”

Anna Harden

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