WNBA: Sun lose to Mystics then reflect on Anne Donovan’s passing


UNCASVILLE — Walking into locker room at halftime, the veteran members of the first-place Connecticut Sun were frustrated and embarrassed after falling behind by 30 points. It didn’t take long for the emotional pendulum to swing in a different direction.

Word began to spread at halftime of the passing of former Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan and at that point, the five players who played for the Hall of Famer could think of no better way to pay homage to their former mentor than by unleashing a second half eruption to end all second half eruptions.

The Sun tied the WNBA record by overcoming the largest deficit to take the lead before falling 95-91 to the Washington Mystics at Mohegan Sun Arena on Wednesday night.

“She brought half of us here and hearing about it at halftime, it really put me in shock,” Sun guard Alex Bentley said. “That second half was for her, just to fight for her. It is crazy.


“She just got us on the court. She was really connected to how we played, our style of play. She brought me here so I had a special relationship with her because she was one of those coaches who completely put her faith in me and believed in me, pushed me, challenged me. I am definitely going to miss her.”

Elena Delle Donne had 36 points ad Kristi Toliver 25 as Washington (6-4) handed Connecticut its second loss of the season.

Washington coach Mike Thibault spoke about how important the win was for his team before reflecting on his close friend who he worked with on Donovan’s Olympic coaching staff.


Courtney Williams had a career-high 34 points, 16 coming in the third quarter for the Sun (7-2). Chiney Ogwumike added 19 points and Jasmine Thomas 13 for Connecticut but in the end, the forgettable first-half performance by the Sun allowed Washington to assume control of the game from the outset.

Ogwumike, Alyssa Thomas (who injured her shoulder late in the third quarter and did not return) and Bentley were members of Donovan’s second Connecticut Sun team in 2014, the following year Jasmine Thomas and Skekinna Stricklen joined the team on the last Sun team to open a season 7-1 before this year’s group.

The Sun trailed by as many as 30 points in the first half before flying back to regain the lead. However, the Sun missed three of its last four shots of the game.

Toliver hit a deep 3-pointer with 58.5 seconds left to give Washington the lead for good.

“It is good to know that we don’t give up,” Jasmine Thomas said. “We are past those days of coming out with slow starts, letting people score that easily against us. Credit to them, tremendous offensive players of course but a lot of that is our focus of not executing our game plan.”

Then Thomas reflected on the death of Donovan.

“Very sad to hear that news,” Thomas said. “She is the coach who brought me here to get me in Connecticut and even though things were tough when she was here, she gave me my first opportunity to really play my game and be myself.

“I kind of felt sick a little bit because our emotions are flowing. We are mad about the game and it brings it all into perspective that it is just a game. I really feel bad for her family and don’t even really have the words to describe how I am feeling.”


james.fuller

@hearstmediact.com; @NHRJimFuller

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