Sun get back in the win column, topple Clark, Fever 89-72

Jun. 11—MOHEGAN — There was an interesting confluence of fan bases Monday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, those cheering for the hometown Connecticut Sun and those who were Team Caitlin Clark Or Bust.

The Sun fans booed Clark when they believed she was awarded a foul unjustly against Connecticut's DiJonai Carrington in the first half and the Clark disciples cheered when Clark, the much-heralded rookie for the Indiana Fever, made the free throws.

Only the Sun loyalists had more to cheer about.

Carrington lit up the sold-out crowd of 8,910 to end the first half with a steal from Clark and a layup as the clock struck zero — an officials' review confirmed it — and the Sun went on to beat the Fever 89-72 in the final game of a three-game homestand.

"Every night I think I have a big defensive assignment and that's what I want," said Carrington, who finished with a season-high 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals while limiting Clark to 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting, drawing Clark as a defensive assignment.

"My defense definitely fuels my offense and getting stops, getting easy buckets in transition, it gets the crowd going, it gets all of us going. ... Defense is a lot of effort and just staying locked in, that's what I've been trying to do."

Carrington's offensive display included a 3-point field goal about two minutes into the fourth quarter, after which she raised her arms to the rafters in triumph.

"Praise God," Carrington said with a grin of the made 3. "I can't even look at the stats, but I'm probably shooting about 5% percent from 3, so I've got to praise God every time I hit one."

DeWanna Bonner added 17 points for the Sun (10-1). Brionna Jones and Ty Harris had 11 points each, Tiffany Mitchell 10 and Alyssa Thomas had seven points, seven assists and a season-high 18 rebounds, tied for the most rebounds league-wide in a single game this season.

Aliyah Boston had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana (3-10).

Clark, the former Iowa All-American and the No. 1 pick in this year's WNBA Draft, played just 22 minutes, heading to the bench after picking up her fourth foul with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter and not returning.

The Sun, who won nine straight games to start the season, were coming off their first loss, falling 82-75 Saturday against the New York Liberty.

"We bounced back," Sun head coach Stephanie White said. "We improved in a lot of areas, especially the first half but really through three quarters and came out and did what we needed to do today. Our pace was really good. At least for three quarters it was really good."

Carrington's explosive layup to end the first half gave the Sun a 55-35 lead. Bonner led the way with 15 points at the half, shooting 6-for-7, 3-for-3 from 3-point range, Carrington had 14 points and Thomas 10 rebounds.

Clark had 10 points for Indiana, including two 3-pointers, and three personal fouls.

Clark picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter, as the Sun stretched their lead to as many as 28.

Connecticut scored twice in five seconds in the third quarter when Thomas scored on an assist from Jones, followed by Bonner stealing the inbounds pass and scoring to make it 61-37. A 6-0 run later in the third on baskets by Jones, Carrington and Mitchell made it 67-39 in the Sun's favor.

The Sun improved to 3-0 against Indiana, beating the Fever 92-71 on opening night at Mohegan Sun, May 14, with Carrington's suffocating defense forcing Clark into 5-for-15 shooting with 10 turnovers in her WNBA debut.

Connecticut then traveled to Indiana on May 20 and won 88-84.

White said that she has been impressed by the discipline of Carrington, who ascended to a starting role after coming off the bench last year. She said a year ago, Carrington was more prone to taking chances on defense.

She also characterized Carrington, a 5-foot-11 guard in her fourth year with the team and the Sun's emerging defensive stopper, as "locked in."

"She's impacting the game and making their life really difficult," White said. "She's been huge for us and she's going to have to continue to be huge for us. ... It just adds another dimension to our team."

The Sun's Moriah Jefferson, who missed the last two games with a right ankle injury, checked in at the 1:18 mark of the first quarter and shortly thereafter drove for a layup, accelerating all the way to the basket. She finished with four points in six minutes.

White said prior to the game that there wouldn't necessarily be a minutes restriction on Jefferson but that "our goal is to see how mobile she'll be in live action."

The Sun next play Wednesday at Chicago (8 p.m.)