INDIANAPOLIS – The Connecticut Sun used a 20-4 third-quarter run, including five 3-pointers by Jonquel Jones and Shekinna Stricklen, to seize a lead they did not relinquish in a 76-63 win over the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The duo of Stricklen and Jones scored 22 of Connecticut’s 23 points in the third period, while the Sun held the Fever to just 5-of-15 from the field for 13 points in the frame.
“Way too many threes,” said Fever forward Candice Dupree on what went wrong in the third. “They picked us apart with the middle pick and roll in the first half, I thought we did a better job of it in the second half, but we have to recognize when we need to help and when we don’t.”
On the other end, Indiana set a franchise record with 0-of-16 shooting beyond the arc, marking just the fourth time in club history the Fever have not hit a 3-point field goal. Indiana was, however, 17-of-21 from the free throw line.
Connecticut’s star center, Jones, led the way for the Sun with a season-high 26 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots. Jasmine Thomas added 14 points and six assists in the win.
Stricklen scored 12 points for the game, coming on four 3-point baskets, all during the critical third quarter run.
Four of Indiana’s starters reached double digits with Kelsey Mitchell leading the way with 14 points. Betnijah Laney chipped in 11 points and tied a career-high with four steals. Natalie Achonwa added 11 points, including 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, and seven rebounds.
Dupree scored 11 points against the Sun, passing Lisa Leslie (6,263) for sixth place among WNBA career scoring leaders with 6,267 in her 14th season.
“I feel like every three or four games she’s doing something,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “It speaks to Candice’s career, to be able to do it at a level where she is the primary focus on a younger team – it’s in all facets of the game. I’m excited for her.”
After a rough outing on Friday night against the Sparks, Indiana’s starters came out more focused against Connecticut as Mitchell and Dupree each had a pair of baskets to give the home team an early 10-9 lead.
Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas gave the Sun a jolt midway through the first, as the duo scored 18 of Connecticut’s 20 first quarter points. The Sun led the Fever 20-15 at the end of one.
The Fever made a quick 5-0 run early in the second to cut the deficit to just a basket, 22-20. Jones and Courtney Williams then answered, as the Sun went on a 11-2 spurt that gave them their first double-digit lead of the game, 33-22.
Jones had 16 first half points for the Sun, while Thomas added 11 to propel Connecticut. The visitors took a 39-30 lead into the halftime break.
Stricklen hit a 3-pointer to open the second half for the Sun, but Indiana responded by scoring the next nine points, cutting the deficit to just three, 42-39.
The led to the Sun’s game-clinching 20-4 run to end the third quarter however, giving the visitors a 62-43 lead heading into the fourth.
Indiana cut into the deficit in the final frame, trimming the Sun lead to as few as nine, 67-58, but was unable to close the gap any further. The loss is Indiana’s seventh straight home defeat and third straight loss overall.
The Fever finish their four-game homestand in a matchup with Washington on Friday, July 19.