July 26, 2020 

Connecticut Sun fall apart in their opener against the Minnesota Lynx

Fatigue plays a factor as Sun fail to hold off Lynx

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PALMETTO, FL – JULY 26: Alyssa Thomas #25 of the Connecticut Sun drives to the basket against the Minnesota Lynx on July 26, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Execute!” said Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller as the Minnesota Lynx took a 60-59 lead over his team. 

However, the Sun failed to do so over the last six minutes and lost 77-69 despite leading most of the game. 

Fatigue a factor in the first game

Fatigue played a role for the Sun, who struggled on offense in the second half, scoring just 12 points in the fourth quarter. 

“Depth is such a big concern and issue … We only have 10 people in the bubble. Natisha [Hiedeman] is a little bit gassed. Today you could tell for the first time that you know her COVID positive process does not have her game legs ready,” Miller said. 

Natisha Hiedeman scored five points and grabbed two rebounds in her first game this season after joining the team last week. 

Miller played nine of the available players, not playing Jacki Gemelos who practiced as a backup point guard prior to Hiedeman’s return. 

“We were just trying to find our place, and probably could have gone with Jacki in the third quarter,” Miller said. “There were segments, but we were rolling in the first half. And then, I just wasn’t gonna put her in there for the last two minutes of the game.”

The Sun play 18 of their final 21 games on one day’s rest and avoiding fatigue in Tuesday and Thursday’s game will be a critical part of the plan for the Sun as they try to win their first game of the new season.

Alyssa Thomas is still “The Engine” 

Alyssa Thomas picked up where she left off last season, scoring first for the Sun and totalling 12 points and six rebounds in the first quarter. The Lynx as a team scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in the same 10 minute span. 

While many players looked tired early in the game, Thomas raced around the court, driving to the basket like she had been preparing for this season for months. 

She previously spoke about not playing basketball for several months, a break she hadn’t had in years. 

After the game she said, “It was nice to finally be able to rest my body. I went from playing in the Finals to two days later playing with my team and EuroLeague so I had no time to just take care of myself. So those three months that’s what I did I stepped away from basketball and now I’m back and I’m ready to play.”

Thomas didn’t miss a shot until the third quarter, but she wasn’t immune to fatigue, uncharacteristically missing two layups in the second half. 

She finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals and showed that she will have to continue to play at the top of her game in order for the Sun to be successful this season. 

DeWanna Bonner shined in first game with the Sun

While Bonner struggled to get going in her first game with Connecticut, she quickly found her rhythm inside the three point line and from the free throw line. 

Bonner’s versatility was on display, and she could be found bringing the ball up the court, driving to the basket and making her presence known on the defensive end.

She had 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block, but missed all six of her three-point attempts. 

While Bonner was wearing ice during her post-game interview, she said getting into the gym and shooting threes would be part of her recovery. 

As a team the Sun went just 2-for-19 from behind the arc and Bonner noted that it’s hard to win in this league without making threes. 

If Bonner is able to find her three-point shot she will become an even more critical piece of the puzzle for the Sun this season.

The Sun return to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they take on the Washington Mystics, who they faced in last year’s WNBA Finals. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.

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