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It's a learning experience for Sun

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published September 12. 2013 4:00AM
Down to its last eight players, Connecticut showing a spark

Mohegan - The game meant nothing, really, what with the Sun and their 8-23 record entering Wednesday night. And then suddenly, it meant everything. Fourth quarter, Sun down one, 12 seconds left and 5,724 people were standing at Mohegan Sun Arena, loud and intrigued at whether their new band of eight players could pull off another one.

And they did.

Kalana Greene's inbounds pass found a yawningly open Mistie Bass, whose layup with 11.5 seconds left gave the Sun a 78-77 win over playoff-bound Atlanta.

The Sun, some of whose best players were cheering in street clothes, won for the second time in three tries with eight players.

"They're just fun," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. "They never give up. I'm sure Atlanta thought we were dead in the water several times. This team doesn't go there."

The Sun trailed 69-61 midway through the fourth period against a team that had beaten them three of four other times this season. A team that needed to win to secure homecourt in the first round of the playoffs.

Instead, Bass caught the pass. Renee Montgomery scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth period. And the Sun's 9-23 record includes wins in two of the last three and maybe a building point for the offseason.

"We're all learning something in this process," Donovan said. "We're seeing what these kids are made of. All of us are seeing this brand of basketball is pretty good."

Jasmine Thomas gave Atlanta a 77-76 lead with 12.7 seconds left, setting the stage for the Greene-to-Bass pass. Greene waited nearly the entire five seconds.

"It took a little bit of time, but it got there," Greene said. "Great screen by Renee. Great execution."

Montgomery's screen knocked down Atlanta center Erika DeSouza, one of the league's strongest players.

After the game, Montgomery smiled and flexed, before saying: "I think it kind of caught her off guard."

Thomas and former UConn guard Tiffany Hayes missed shots in the final seconds for the Dream (17-15).

Hayes gave Atlanta a 75-74 lead with 31 seconds left on a clutch 3-pointer.

Earlier in the period, Montgomery drew a technical foul in a tie game, believing she was hit before she made a layup.

"I said 'and one' three times. I think it was how many times, not what I said," Montgomery said. "I'd like you to put this in the paper: I'm now accepting donations. Technicals cost $200."

Bass led the Sun with 15 points. Montgomery scored 14 points while Kelsey Griffin scored 12 and Tan White had 11.

Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta with 23 points and 10 rebounds. McCoughtry entered the game averaging 29.7 points per game against Connecticut this season, including three games with at least 30 points.

"Twenty-three is still too many," Donovan said, "but I thought we did some good things. ? We have a lot of blue-collar, under-the-radar players right now. But they never quit, have each other's back and make the next pass."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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