Mohegan - And on a sunny, 70-degree Sunday with unlimited outdoor possibilities …
And on a football Sunday with so many indoor possibilities …
A near capacity crowd of 8,478 fans showed up at Mohegan Sun Arena to bid adieu to their team - their suddenly resilient, undaunted team - for the long offseason.
Their reward just might get them through the winter, too. The Sun, down to seven healthy players, needed overtime but beat the playoff-bound Indiana Fever, 82-80.
Izzy Castro Marques, in quite possibly her last game as a Sun player, made two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining. Indiana's Erlana Larkins missed a short jumper at the buzzer, sending an arena full of fans, who spent much of the summer exasperated, home happy.
The Sun, who finished 10-24, won three of their last five games, all of which came without reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player Tina Charles, 2013 all-star Allie Hightower, starting point guard Kara Lawson and rookie Kelly Faris. Then came the latest casualty, guard Tan White, who broke her finger Friday night in Washington.
This game turned into a spirited battle of seven on seven. Indiana, too, dressed seven players, leaving Tamika Catchings, Jess Breland, Briann January, Jess Davenport and Shavonte Zellous home.
The Sun returned from a west coast trip earlier this month with seven straight losses, also learning that Charles was shut down for the rest of the season. They managed to beat three playoff teams - Washington, Atlanta, Indiana - on fumes.
"Mistie said it's going to be crazy when we go 4-1 after this," Renee Montgomery said, recalling a conversation with Mistie Bass just after the west coast trip. "You can't be the Bad News Bears a whole season. At a certain point, there's a little light at the end of the tunnel."
Bass: "No one thought we'd win any games with Tina injured. We won that first one (over Washington) and said 'hmmm, that felt good. We've been playing with great heart and passion. It felt like our energy wasn't just an individual energy, but an energy we had for each other."
Bass, who is among several players whose return next season is questionable, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Castro Marques had 19 to lead the Sun while Montgomery had 16, Kalana Greene 13 (in 42 minutes) and Kelsey Griffin had 10.
Griffin sent the game to overtime scoring with 0.4 seconds left in regulation.
Castro Marques made a three with 1:20 left in overtime to give Connecticut an 80-77 lead, but Katie Douglas responded with a three to tie it with 40 seconds left.
"There have been a lot of great lessons for everyone, including me," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "We played pretty good basketball without Tina on the floor. That's something I need to take note of and probably didn't trust enough. With Tina shut down, I had no idea we could finish as strong as we did and probably should have had a better clue."