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Layshia Clarendon Plays First Game In Sun Uniform In Loss To Liberty

For the first time in her WNBA career, Layshia Clarendon stepped onto the court at Mohegan Sun Arena in a blue and orange uniform. It’s been a hectic three days for the newest member of the Sun, but being back on the court — any court — makes her feel more at home.

When Clarendon walked in the locker room after the New York Liberty beat the Sun on a buzzer beater, 79-76, she was pleased with her effort. She had just one day of practice ahead of the game, but played nearly 15 minutes and recorded seven points, three rebounds and one assist. It wasn’t her best game by far, but it was good enough for someone who was still learning the ropes with the Sun.

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“I felt pretty good,” Clarendon said. “I was a little bit winded at first because of coming off travel and not really playing the last couple of games with Atlanta, but once we got going, it was nice to get the jitters out and get the first game under my belt so it’s not so brand new.”

Shavonte Zellous made the game-winner Wednesday, banking in a 3-pointer to beat the clock.

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Just three days prior, Clarendon was 992 miles away, a member of the Atlanta Dream. On Monday she found out she had been traded to the Sun for Alex Bentley and a second-round pick. Bentley reportedly was in an altercation with teammate Courtney Williams a week or so before the trade, but Connecticut has chosen not to comment on the rumors.

Clarendon quickly packed a week’s worth of necessities and flew to Connecticut, making it in time to join the team for practice on Tuesday afternoon while her wife and dog made the journey.

“I’ve just been taking it one step at a time,” Clarendon said. “I got to practice yesterday so that helped a little bit in scouting New York, but there are only 12 teams so you kind of know what everybody runs and I think I’m a pretty high IQ basketball player, so I can kind of pick up stuff pretty quickly with what they’re running. Atlanta ran a lot of similar stuff so I’m just trying to stay in the moment and not realize, like, ‘Holy crap, I was in a different city two days ago on a different team.’ My life just totally changed.”

Clarendon hasn’t had much time to get used to her new team, but that likely won’t hinder her or it. The Sun weren’t particularly cohesive Wednesday as they attempted to work Alyssa Thomas, who’s been out with an injury, and Williams, who was out for personal reasons, back into the lineup alongside Clarendon. Despite joining the team during an experimental time of lineup changes, Clarendon feels like she’s already beginning to build chemistry with her teammates.

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“I thought it was pretty solid,” Clarendon said. “We were talking about this after the game, just about kind of learning who does what off of different screens and who pops. I thought there was some pretty good chemistry, and I try to just always make the right play and the smart play — nothing too crazy or fancy. There were a couple times where I was screening and me and (Alyssa Thomas) were looking at each other like, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I thought we did a good job of not turning those into turnovers when we didn’t know what to do, so I think the chemistry was solid and it’s only going to get better.”

UConn Alums

The New York Liberty have multiple former Huskies on the team, one of whom played extremely well in Wednesday’s win. Tina Charles was the Liberty’s leading scorer with 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists. Bria Hartley recorded five points, three rebounds and an assist. Kia Nurse and Kiah Stokes both scored two points while Nurse also recorded an assist and Stokes recorded two rebounds. The Sun’s lone UConn alum is Morgan Tuck, who played for a little over two minutes on Wednesday.

Connecticut Stats

Chiney Ogwumike led the Sun with 17 points, nine rebounds and an assist, while Williams had 16 points, three rebounds and five assists. This was Williams’ first game back after not playing in the Sun’s games against Washington, Los Angeles and Phoenix for “personal reasons.” Jasmine Thomas scored 12 points.

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