The 96-89 victory over the Seattle Storm on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena highlighted strengths that are emerging with this Connecticut Sun team.
Here’s a look:
Beyond the Arc
Connecticut made 10 threes on 22 attempts (.455) in the win over Seattle. It was the fifth time this season the Sun have connected on 10 three-point attempts. Connecticut leads the WNBA in three-point shooting percentage (.435) by a significant margin. As of Friday, the next best three-point shooting percentage in the league is Minnesota (.381), and Connecticut’s 103 made threes are second only to Washington, which is 107 of 329 (.325). The Sun had a season-high 12 made threes at New York, which is tied for the fifth most in team history. Leading the way from three-point range are Shekinna Stricklen (32 of 71) and Jasmine Thomas (30 of 62). Thomas is tied for third in the WNBA in three-point shooting percentage (.484), but none of the other three players tied or ahead of her in that category have more than 31 attempts. In just 13 games Thomas has moved within six made threes of a new single-season career high. Stricklen leads the team with 32 made threes this season, and ranks sixth in the WNBA in three-point shooting percentage (.451). But nobody in the top 10 has as many made threes or attempts (71) as Stricklen, who has made 29 of 62 (46.7 percent) threes over the last nine games.
Connecticut is learning to win close games. On Thursday, it withstood a frantic rally by the Storm, which cut a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter to one point before Shekinna Stricklen hit a clutch jumper with 1:06 left. Courtney Williams followed with a steal that resulted in a Jasmine Thomas layup and the Sun hung on. At New York (6/23), the Liberty rallied from a 21-point deficit to tie the game in the last minute before baskets by Courtney Williams and Jasmine Thomas sealed the win. And at Minnesota on June 17th, the Lynx were within three points in the closing seconds before the Sun closed out the upset. Earlier this season, Connecticut dropped three two-point decisions in five games.
Point guard Jasmine Thomas and forward Alyssa Thomas are racking up assists at an impressive rate. Alyssa Thomas had a career-high nine assists against the Storm – she had eight twice this season – and is tied for sixth in the WNBA in assist average (4.8) with point guard Lindsay Whalen. Her 63 assists through 13 games are just seven short of her previous single-season career high (70 last season). In fact, Thomas is on pace for 158 assists this season. Her career assist total in the three seasons prior to this year was 154. Jasmine Thomas had a career-high 11 assists against Atlanta (6/10), and is on pace for a career-high 178, despite missing one game this season. She ranks fifth in the WNBA at 5.4 assists per game.
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