The preponderance of UConn alumnae on the Connecticut Sun roster may be a coincidence, or so says Sun management. But one thing was certain Friday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
It’s a nice coincidence to have on your side.
Renee Montgomery came off the bench again to score a game-high 23 points, Tina Charles added 18 points and eight rebounds and Asjha Jones chipped in 16 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead the Sun to a 83-79 win over San Antonio.
Danielle Adams led the Silver Stars (1-1) with 21 points, including the first eight her team scored.
“This is a really good win against a team we’ve traditionally struggled with,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “We’d lost three of the last four against them.”
The Sun is now 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and has a week to revel before next Friday’s showdown with the defending champion Minnesota Lynx at the casino.
“We still have a lot of work to do and can’t be satisfied,” said Sun guard Allie Hightower. “There’s a long season ahead of us.”
Charles needed four rebounds to reach 800 faster (72 games) than anyone in the 16-year history of the league. She got those – and more.
“Tina is that good [of a player] and the generation of players that has come in the league with her is much better,” Thibault said. “Tina has a gift, a knack to go get the ball. It’s [rebounding] obviously highly important, but it speaks to her dedication to be a great player, in all phases. That’s why she’s a captain. She’s a no-nonsense person and everyone in the league respects her. She knows when it’s time to go to work.”
Charles also came into the game with 47 double-doubles in 71 games, just three from Taj McWilliams-Franklin’s club record of 50, which took her 241 games to compile. She has had 21 games with at least 20 points.
Thibault reprised his early-season strategy, starting Danielle McCray for Montgomery and using Montgomery as a spark off the bench. And he made one more switch, placingHightower in the lineup for Kalana Greene so she could guard San Antonio’s Becky Hammon.
“It was huge for us. You have scoring and energy at every position and the capacity to interchange starters [in the backcourt],” Thibault said. “I think Renee may have more chances to score than she did when she was starting. When she comes off the bench, we need her to be an aggressive scorer. Look at the NBA and see how many players can do that. We need that. And our bench can actually give us a pick-me-up, instead of just holding down the fort. We can increase what we’ve done or make up for what we haven’t done. It’s been good.”
Montgomery is not particularly happy about this, but she has done exactly what Thibault intended, scoring nine points in the first quarter to help the Sun to a 23-19 lead afterAdams opened the game by scoring San Antonio’s first eight points.
“We forget we were supposed to guard her,” Thibault said.
Montgomery’s 23 points were the most for a Sun player since she came off the bench to score 33 at Minnesota in 2010.
“I see our team playing well and we have since the start of the season,” Montgomery said. “I don’t know how good we would have been either way [the lineup]. We’ve looked different since training camp, so I can’t really say if this is the reason.”
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