Connecticut Sun grind out a win against the Phoenix Mercury

Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams (10) congratulates Connecticut Sun forward Morgan Tuck (33) during the WNBA game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on August 01, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss
Connecticut Sun guard Courtney Williams (10) congratulates Connecticut Sun forward Morgan Tuck (33) during the WNBA game between the Phoenix Mercury and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on August 01, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss /

The Sun found a way to win ugly

Jasmine Thomas hits a jump shot.

She turns around with a smile on her face.

She high-fives teammate Courtney Williams.

The crowd jumps to their feet and drowns the arena in cheers.

The scorebord reads 60-54 in favor of the Connecticut Sun and the Phoenix Mercury call a timeout.

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In all close games, there is a moment where you can feel the momentum shift in one direction or another for good.

While Phoenix tried to pull the momentum back in their direction, they didn’t succeed. Though they tried to take back the lead, and very got it, Courtney Williams and Jonquel Jones decided that would not be the case.

Williams and Jones combined to score the next six points for the Sun, and the team had a 66-60 lead with under a minute to go.

Williams hit both of her free throws to make it 68-60 with 14.8 seconds left.

When the clock read 0:00, the scoreboard read 68-62 in favor of the Sun, who remain in first place in the standings and extended their winning streak to six.

Though the win may not have been pretty, it got the job done, something that the team has failed to do in seasons past.

It’s okay to win ugly

While the Sun were trying to hold back a comeback from Chicago last game, tonight they were able to take a lead back and maintain it as the clock wound down. The last Phoenix lead came with 7:33 left in the game.

Head coach Curt Miller opened the post-game press conference by saying, “Proud of that locker room tonight, that was gritty. Just one way hopefully positively to describe that. You know, they’re not all going to be pretty, they haven’t all been pretty this year.”

When asked about the team grinding out wins at the end Morgan Tuck said, “I think that was something that we struggled with in the years past when, you know, we lost a lot of close games, and this year, you know, we’re not losing them. So it’s, it’s good to see that because that’s what you get in the playoffs, and every game is not going to be a blowout and we’re not going to play pretty. So right now, we’re pretty good at winning ugly.”

Finishing games and grinding out wins is critical for the team in the second half of the season. If the Sun can continue to find ways to win ugly they will be set up to remain in first place and have success in the playoffs.

Courtney Williams provided a needed spark in the second half

Williams went 0-4 in the first half, but made her first of six straight baskets in the third quarter and scored 12 points in the fourth quarter. No other member of the team scored more than four points in the fourth quarter.

“I think I just [saw] a ball go through the basket,” said Williams. “And I kept getting in position. You know, my teammates was setting great screens. They put me in position to be successful. So I think I seen it goes to the basket. So I kept my shot.”

When asked if that’s all she needs, just one to go in, she replied, “That’s a fact, big fact. Only one.”

The Sun thrive and find succes in having a plethora of scoring threats. So while it does not always need to be Williams, when Connecticut needs to grind out a win someone needs to step up.

Morgan Tuck stepped up when her number was called

Tuck has played well when she’s been given the opportunity, though she has not always gotten playing time.

When asked about the mindset of being a reserve player Tuck replied, “”To just be ready. I mean, when you don’t know when your numbers gonna be called and when you get in, you just have to, you know, be into the game, even from the bench. And then you know, when you get in, just try to play hard.”

And Tuck did just that. In 17 minutes she had eight points, going 4-6 from the floor, three rebounds, an assist and a steal.

Miller had nothing but praise for her after the game saying, “Morgan Tuck hasn’t always got extended minutes. And especially hasn’t always earned minutes in crunch time and really proud of her tonight. That’s not an easy cover in Bonner and it’s not an easy cover in Camille [Little]. … So hats off to Morgan Tuck. You know, to stay ready to stay the professional that she is is a credit to her and credit to her pedigree and her four national championships that it hasn’t always worked out for her in terms of minutes. But she was ready tonight immediately.”

While Tuck has not always been able to showcase her abilities, Thursday night she demonstrated that when called upon she can and will succeed. If the Sun can get this kind of production when they call upon their bench players at any position, it will improve the team’s chances of success. It has been discussed time and time again that in order to succeed a team needs to have quality play from their bench.

If Connecticut can continue to get quality play out of their bench players they will be set up for success when playing multiple games in a short amount of time, or as the season continues. This will, in turn, increase their chances of winning, something that gets more and more important as the season continues.

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