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Sun beat Dream to complete record-breaking regular season

Mohegan — The Connecticut Sun started their 2021 WNBA season back on May 14 at the Atlanta Dream without starters Jasmine Thomas (overseas commitments) and Alyssa Thomas, the latter who was thought to be lost for the year after tearing her Achilles tendon on Jan 12.

Connecticut won that night.

Along the way, the Sun weathered the absences of Briann January, Jonquel Jones and head coach Curt Miller due to either injuries, overseas commitments, suspensions or personal matters.

Connecticut came full-circle Sunday afternoon with an 84-64 win over the Dream and finished the most successive regular season in franchise history before 4,724 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Sun finished 26-6 to tie the franchise record for wins set in both 2005 and 2006. Their six losses and .813 winning percentage are also franchise records.

Connecticut also extended its franchise record 14-game winning streak, the longest winning streak to end the regular season in WNBA history. It also finished a league-best 15-1 at home.

“Tremendously proud,” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “Just truly humbled to watch the approach by these players each and every day. The consistency that they bring to practice. The consistency that they bring upon game night and number one, their winningness to prepare. It’s just outstanding.

“Just a remarkable run. I can’t be more proud as a coach. (A) really special group.”

The Sun will be the top seed in the WNBA playoffs and receive a double-bye to the best-of-five semifinals where they’ll play the lowest remaining seed. Games 1 and 2 are at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sept. 28 and Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.

“I wouldn’t say anything (was) surprising,” Connecticut’s Brionna Jones said about the team’s fantastic regular season. “We see what’s going on in practice every day and how hard we’re working.

“I think even though (we) were missing a few people here-and-there, everybody stepped up when they needed to and that’s the beauty of our team. It can be anybody on any given night. I think that’s what makes us hard to guard. That’s made us so successful this season.”

All 11 Sun players scored with three finishing in double figures. Jonquel Jones made one last case for league MVP honors by scoring 15 with a game-high 10 rebounds and two blocks. She also averaged a league-best 11.2 rebounds.

Brionna Jones had 15 points, 11 rebounds and three steals while reserve Natisha Hiedeman scored 16.

Alyssa Thomas also played her second game after returning last Wednesday. She played 18 minutes off the bench and had five points and seven rebounds.

Courtney Williams scored a game-high 18 with four rebounds and four assists for Atlanta (8-24).

Connecticut had an early nervous moment when starter DeWanna Bonner had to leave 1 minute, 49 seconds into the game and gingerly walked to the back. It was later learned that she was experiencing back tightness. She later returned and watched the rest of the game from the bench.

“She said she’s already looser,” Miller said. “She’s had some back spasms, she’s had some back tightness on-and-off recently. It just cramped on her.”

Jonquel Jones’ three gave the Sun an 8-6 lead just 2:29 into the game that they never relinquished.

Reserve Beatrice Mompremier gave Connecticut its largest lead, 84-62, on a layup with 59.8 seconds remaining in the game.

Jasmine Thomas honored

Thomas was awarded the first Gladys Tantaquidgeon Award after the game by the Mohegan Tribe in honor of her leadership, positivity and charitable work.

Thomas collaborated this season with Sharing Shoes, a charity that collects new and gently worn basketball shoes for underserved athletes. Shoes were collected at games from fans and other teams brought shoes they collected when they came to play at Connecticut.

Thomas has also been active with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

“I’m super-honored to win this award,” Thomas said. “(The Tribe) has really embraced us as part of their family. People forget that’s who we play for. We play for the Tribe. This year more than ever they have let us in on some of their traditions and we appreciate them so much.

“I’m grateful. I love them. They’re a part of my family now.”

n.griffen@theday.com

Connecticut Sun guard Briann January (20) fouls Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald in WNBA action Sunday, September 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Connecticut Sun guard Briann January (20) fouls Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald in WNBA action Sunday, September 19, 2021 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Sun Dream photo gallery

For additional photos from the Sun Dream WNBA game click here.

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