Brunson scores 32, leads Monarchs over Sun
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—Chastised by their coach for a perceived lack of focus in pregame shootaround, Sacramento Monarchs post players Rebekkah Brunson and DeMya Walker had plenty of focus when it mattered most.
Brunson scored a career-high 32 points and had 13 rebounds, Walker had a season-high 19 points, and the resurgent Monarchs beat the slumping Connecticut Sun, 90-70 on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t have our stone face (at shootaround), but everyone had the right attitude going into the game,” Brunson said with a sheepish smile afterward.
The athletic Brunson proved a mismatch all evening for the Sun, who were playing without injured center Asjha Jones. Scoring freely inside and getting a few easy baskets on fast-break opportunities, Brunson made 13-of-18 shots and 6-of-7 free throws in 32 minutes, which also happens to be her jersey number. Her three-point play with 2:35 left in the third quarter put the Monarchs comfortably in front, 64-48.
“She takes a lot of pressure off me, teams really have to respect her,” said Walker, who made 9-of-12 shots and added three assists and three rebounds. “She was awesome tonight.”
Scholanda Robinson had 11 points and Nicole Powell added nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Monarchs. Sacramento (11-20) has won two straight and six of nine, and still has an outside shot at making the playoffs.
The loss, combined with Detroit’s victory over Phoenix, dropped the Sun (14-17) from a fourth-place tie to sixth place in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining. The top four teams make the playoffs.
“They just outplayed us. Their post players combined for 51 points; Brunson and Walker were terrific,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “The Monarchs were better than us in every phase of the game.”
Jones missed her eighth straight game with an Achilles’ injury. Thibault said his leading scorer will probably miss the remainder of the regular season for the Sun, which has three games remaining, including a home game Friday against last-place New York.
“We need to get home, get some rest and regroup,” Thibault said. “Then we’ll see how we respond to our last three games.”
Brunson tied her previous season high of 19 points with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. She also grabbed seven rebounds in the half, when Sacramento only trailed briefly and took a 44-38 lead.
The Monarchs established control in the opening quarter, when they shot 71 percent and led 29-21. Brunson made all four shots and had 10 points and six rebounds.