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Sun Hang On In OT, But They're Eliminated From Playoffs Regardless

UNCASVILLE — With their two best players out of commission and the playoffs a long shot even by casino standards, the Connecticut Sun still refused to give up Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Of course, they made it tough again, watching a 13-point, third-quarter lead fade away into the depths of double overtime with neither Chiney Ogwumike nor Katie Douglas available.

"I like the way we responded down the stretch," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "Playing hard has not been the issue this season."

But in the end, even though the Sun prevailed, ending a three-game losing streak with an 89-81 win over the Washington Mystics, it was too late.

It was not enough to help them avoid the inevitable in the race for one for one of the four playoff spots in the conference. Chicago's win against Atlanta later Sunday eliminated the Sun from playoff contention, relegating them to the draft lottery for the second straight season.

Although it is still possible for Connecticut (12-20) and Chicago (14-17) finish tied, the Sky would get in on the basis of the tiebreaker earned winning the season series.

Indiana (14-17) closed out the Sun, also on tiebreakers, with its win over New York earlier Sunday.

Connecticut's first win at home in six games was uplifting, ending a drought that had characterized the spiral the season had taken since June 25 for a young, inexperienced team.

Alex Bentley led five Sun scorers in double figures with 18 points. Kelsey Bone added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Renee Montgomery contributed 14 points and Alyssa Thomas had 11.

"At the end we had to band together and play solid defense," Montgomery said. "Trusting one another to make the extra pass, rotate on defense was the most important part of the game for us."

But it was Kelsey Griffin's three-point shot, her eighth of the season and first since Aug. 1, that gave the Sun a 79-75 lead with 2:18 to play in the second OT. And Kelly Faris, with just five minutes in the last three games, gave the Sun a strong 11 defensively Sunday.

"We will be able to catapult what we began this season so that what our fans have seen in spurts this season will become more consistent," Griffin said. "We want to give them the kind of team they expect from us."

Ivory Latta scored 20 for the Mystics (15-16). Mo Currie added 18. Emma Meesseman had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sun led 64-55 with 4:19 to play but needed a basket from Griffin off an offensive rebound at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

The Sun were just 7 of 16 from the free throw line in regulation, part of the reason they were not able to hold onto the lead. But they ended the game 26 of 36. The Mystics were 19-for-25.

Ogwumike (nine points, nine rebounds) returned to the lineup for the Sun after missing the past two games with an abscessed tooth that required surgery. And her basket in the final seconds of the third quarter gave the Sun the 56-49 lead it carried into the fourth quarter. But after playing over 26 minutes she began to feel nauseated and could not continue.

"She definitely was not herself," Donovan said. "I want to say she looked a bit discombobulated; she just was not sharp. But she did a great job while in there considering she is still not 100 percent."

And Douglas, who had scored 10 points in nearly 40 minutes, missed the final 2:34 with what Donovan called lower back stiffness.

"We're not sure how that will shake out," Donovan said.

The Sun, who had lost three straight, looked like a different team than the one that struggled to score Friday in New York when it scored 25 in the first half. At one point they were shooting 50 percent (23 of 46), but when it counted at the end they struggled, making just eight of 31 down the stretch and into the overtimes.

Led by Bentley (6 of 9), they kept a step ahead of the second-place Mystics. Washington had won the first three meetings between the teams this season.

The Sun trailed 32-31 at the half. They led on a few occasions, once by as many as three (23-20) before the Mystics came back to take a five-point lead on a pair of three-pointers by Kara Lawson.

Lawson, the former Sun guard, injured her right leg and had to be helped from the floor midway through the fourth quarter.

Baskets by Bone and Thomas cut the lead to 32-31 at the half.

Douglas On Record Pace

The Sun guard was 2 of 6 from three Sunday to improve her already history numbers from behind the arc. Douglas now has 724 three-pointers in her career, just one of five to do so in the game's history. Already the all-time leader in Sun history, passing Nykesha Sales (352 from 1999-2007), Douglas had 319 in her first seven years with the Sun before being dealt to Indiana. She has 84 this season.

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