An Alyssa Thomas steal seals the win for Connecticut
Jasmine Thomas ran off the court through the bench players before promptly taking a seat on the bench.
With 2:40 seconds left in the game the Connecticut Sun had just called a timeout after Jonquel Jones was called for her fourth foul after a questionable call on a loose ball foul. The Sun trailed the Seattle Storm 71-68, though fell behind by two more after Crystal Langhorne made both of her foul shots.
Thomas appeared frustrated as she glared off into space, waiting for her teammates to join her and for the timeout meeting to begin.
That stone-faced glare was replaced by joy after the final buzzer sounded. As Mohegan Sun Arena applauded and cheered at deafening volumes Thomas embraced teammates Courtney Williams and Alyssa Thomas, who had the game-sealing steal.
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With just 4.3 seconds left on the clock the Connecticut Sun led 79-78 and the Seattle Storm were inbounding it at half court, Alyssa Thomas swatted the ball into her own possession and with her fifth steal of the game stole the game.
When head coach Curt Miller walked into the press conference he sat down, paused, said “So?” and shrugged. For a short moment, even he was speechless.
Rachel Banham’s injury was a turning point of the game
There was 1:24 left in the first quarter when Rachel Banham went up for an offensive rebound.
There was 59.8 seconds left in the first quarter when head coach Curt Miller called a timeout.
The scoreboard when she left the floor read 21-15 in favor of Connecticut, by halftime it read 46-34 in favor of the Seattle Storm.
By the time Banham hit the ground coming down from the rebound, she was clutching her ankle. She pulled herself to the baseline realizing that play was continuing at the other end of the court.
After the timeout was called Jasmine Thomas rushed to her side. Banham was helped off the court and was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game.
The Sun trailed for most of the last three quarters, having never recovered after being shaken up after the Banham injury. Though no official diagnosis has been made, Banham was ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Without Banham, the Sun lose another veteran who knows the playbook coming off the bench behind Jasmine Thomas, something that could hurt the team if her injury turns out to be serious.
Shekinna Stricklen saved the third quarter for the Sun
Stricklen was responsible for 12 of the Sun’s 24 third-quarter points, hitting three threes and completing a three-point play.
Her play as the end of the third quarter neared brought the crowd back into the game as there are very few things they will cheer louder for than and-1’s and Stricklen threes. After she made the free throw attempt to pull the Sun within five the crowd passionately chanted “Defense.”
Soon after she hit a three and then finished falling to the ground, something that elicited cheers from fans around the arena.
On top of her third-quarter heroics Stricklen also hit the game-winning free throw, showing she can make shots in every important moment.
Even though the Sun finished the quarter down five points, the crowd was involved again after being uncharacteristically quiet for most of the second and third quarters.
Though Stricklen does not need to have 12 points every third quarter, it is important for someone to step up in order to pull the momentum in the Sun’s direction. Stricklen stepping up and hitting threes did allow the team’s offense to open up, something unique to what she can do.
As long as the Sun have someone to pull them out of ruts, the team will have a chance to come back under most circumstances, something that will continue to be important as the regular season comes to a close.
The long term effect of this win cannot be determined until later, is this “stolen” win the one that gave the team a bye? A double bye? Did this win spark another winning streak? However, in the short term, it provides the team with a spark heading into Sunday’s afternoon game against the Dallas Wings.
As Shekinna Stricklen said, “This game was really big, really big. And I think, I mean we’ve got one day to prepare but I think winning this game is really going to give us more motivation more energy for Sunday’s game.”
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