The transgressions of the Connecticut Sun were so bad Friday during a 15-point loss in Atlanta that coach Mike Thibault said he hadn't seen anything so awful in 40 years of basketball. That's a lot of missed assignments and turnovers to sift through.
If nothing else, the Sun needed to make peace with their coach Sunday against the Washington Mystics by piecing things back together. And that's what they did.
"We dug in most of the night, played good defense," Thibault said. "We rebounded the ball better, gave up only two fastbreak points (31 on Friday) and got to the foul line more (23 of 30). Those were all plus signs in trying to build a winning team. I hope this is a sign that we're resilient."
The Sun sank nine three-pointers and used an 18-1 run beginning late in the third quarter to hand the Mystics their first loss after opening the season with three wins, 80-65 before 7,614 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
"That was a special few minutes for us right there," Kara Lawson said. "We had to take to heart was happened to us [in Atlanta], especially since it's so early in the season. We still forming, looking for an identity. You want to make sure you are doing the right things."
Connecticut was led by Tan White, who scored 15 points (4 of 5 on three-pointers).
"I'm very comfortable now since it doesn't feel like I'm the new one around anymore," said White, who was signed as a free agent just before the start of the 2009 season. "The team knows what to expect from me off the bench: energy defensively and trying to knock down some open shots."
Anete Jekabsone-Zogota had 14 points, Lawson and Kelsey Griffin 11 each. Rookie center Tina Charles had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Crystal Langhorne led the Mystics with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Sun next play on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena against former teammate Lindsay Whalen, and the Minnesota Lynx.
Gone on Sunday, for the most part, were the mental lapses that had Thibault raging on Friday. And the third quarter was the showcase for the refocused Sun (2-1).
They held the Mystics scoreless over the last 3:19 and used a 7-0 run to open their first 10-point lead, 49-39, with 1:03 to play in the quarter.
Within the first 2:25 of the fourth, the Sun used threes by Jekabsone-Zogota (two) and White to run off another 11 consecutive points and open a 60-40 margin that put the game away.
This was played far from the pace set in Atlanta, where the Dream left skid marks with their running game at the Phillips Arena, but the Sun still found themselves behind the Mystics 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Neither team shot particularly well. The Sun were 4-for-17 (23.5 percent), the Mystics 5-for-15 (33.3 percent), but at least Connecticut had better control of the boards and kept Washington from running away in a transition game. The Sun ended the half ahead, 31-28, but Thibault was not totally pleased.
He wasn't happy with the 31.3 percent shooting. He wasn't happy with ill-timed fouls and sloppy ball-handling.
In fact, he was so unhappy he almost missed DeMya Walker's buzzer-beating basket that ended the half. Thibault was walking away from the court in disgust because of the loose ball his team caused that eventually led to the basket.
WNBA president Donna Orender and USA Basketball's Carol Callan attended the game in conjunction with Sunday's start of balloting for the WNBA All-Star team that will play the U.S. national team at the Mohegan Sun on July 10. There are 60 players on the ballot and fans can vote at WNBA arenas and the NBA Store in New York. Voting is also available online at WNBA.com, beginning Wednesday and continuing through June 23.
It's going to be an unusual process because all of the WNBA's biggest stars are on the U.S. national team's 20-player roster. That means the top vote-getters among players with U.S. citizenship will likely be playing for Geno Auriemma, coach of the national team, as opposed to the WNBA.