UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Alyssa Thomas and the Connecticut Sun are tough to beat this season, especially at home.
Thomas scored 20 points, Shekinna Stricklen added 16 and the Sun won a franchise-record 12th- straight home game with an 81-67 victory over the Seattle Storm on Sunday.
“You just try to take care of the home court,” Thomas said. “We have had a lot of success here and we feed off the energy of the crowd.”
The Sun led 56-54 heading into the fourth quarter when Thomas scored the first four points to spark a 10-2 run that gave Connecticut a double-digit advantage. The Storm could only get within eight the rest of the way.
Connecticut (8-1) broke the franchise mark of 11 consecutive regular season home victories set in 2004-05. During this current run, the Sun’s last loss at home came against Seattle on July 20 last season. That doesn’t include the playoff loss to Phoenix in the second round. Connecticut has won six straight overall.
Natasha Howard scored 20 points and Jewell Loyd added 15 to lead the Storm (5-4), who finished off a four-game road trip going 2-2. They play eight of the next nine at home.
“It’s been a long haul out here and we for the most part have battled,” interim Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “These guys are really good. We ran out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter. They are a well-coached team. They shoot the ball well.”
Seattle was missing point guard Jordin Canada, who suffered a bone bruise on her knee in a game against Washington on Friday. She didn’t accompany the team to Connecticut, flying home to Seattle. While Canada was missing, the Storm had star Sue Bird on the bench for the game. Bird is out indefinitely after having arthroscopic surgery on her left knee last month.
“It’s doing really well,” Bird said of her knee. “It’s been super easy recovery so far. Taking it easy because they had to do a little more than they anticipated. The first six weeks are boring for me.”
Trailing 44-33 at the half, the Storm scored the first 12 points of the third quarter as the Sun turned the ball over on five straight possessions. Loyd had six points and three steals during that stretch.
Jones helped the Sun jump out to an 11-point lead after the first quarter. The Storm rallied to within 28-26 by scoring the first nine points of the second quarter before Alyssa Thomas restored the double-digit advantage.
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!: The game was broadcast nationally on ABC and UConn coach Geno Auriemma helped provide color commentary alongside former Huskies player Rebecca Lobo.