This is one that almost got away.
Tan White hit the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation to lead the Connecticut Sun over the Atlanta Dream, 55-86, before 5,206 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Wednesday night. Tina Charles led the Sun with 25 points, but managed just six rebounds and missed her customary double-double. Renee Montgomery chipped in with 18 points and four assists, and White finished with 15 points, and four rebounds for the Sun. Rookie Kelly Farris, in her first professional start, had 11 points (including three 3-pointers) and four assists for Connecticut, which improved to 7-15.
Angel McCoughtry led all scorers with 33 points, while also chipping in with eight rebounds and three steals. Armintie Herrington added 15 points and six rebounds for the Dream, who fell to 11-9.
Connecticut, which led 54-45 at the half, and led by as many as 15 in the third period, saw their lead dissipate when a layup by Herrington gave the Dream an 84-83 advantage with 2:14 remaining in regulation. It was Atlanta's first lead since late in the first period. Two free throws by McCoughtry put the Dream ahead by three with 1:29 remaining.
Montgomery's third trey of the game (she was a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc) tied it up at 86 points apiece with 1:19 remaining. From there, the Dream dominated in the paint and had an opportunity to put this one away. First, Herrington was fouled by Charles with 1:03 remaining. Then, after the 5-9 swingman out of Mississippi clanked both chances off the rim, Erika de Souza grabbed the rebound and kicked it out to McCoughtry, who missed a mid-range jumper. Former UConn star Tiffany Hayes grabbed the rebound for the Dream and got the ball out to Jasmine Thomas, who missed a three-point attempt. Hayes then committed a loose ball foul, giving Connecticut possession with 23.6 seconds left in regulation and setting the state for White's heroics.
It was the first game-winning shot ever for White,who is now in her ninth professional season and led the nation in scoring her senior year at Mississippi State.
“We knew we were going to let all the time on the clock run out to leave them no shot, and I think we just did a really good job leading with what the defense gave us,” said White, whose 15-point effort was her best of the season. “It just happened to fall into my hands at the end.”
Head coach Anne Donovan was quick to credit the crowd, who very much acted as the Sun's “sixth man” in this game.
“There is no place like this,” she said. “It's special. Jen [assistant coach Jen Gillom] and I talked about it before the game started, wondering who shows up on a week night when your team is 6 and too many? And then, not just have them show up, but when the slide started, to not give up on us—to really give us momentum to pull it out in the fourth quarter. It’s great for them to get a little bit back. It's a credit to them."
With the win, the Sun keep their slim playoffs hopes alive. Connecticut trails the fourth-place Washington Mystics by 3 games, and must also leapfrog over the fifth-place New York Libery, whom they trail by 2.5 games, in order to qualify for the postseason.
And the road to get there will be brutal, indeed.
First stop is a trip to Atlanta for a return engagment with the Dream, who will be looking for revenge at home on Friday night. That game tips off at 7:30 p.m., and will be televised on NBA-TV and streamed live on WNBA Live Access. Then the Sun head to Chicago where they will play Elene Delle Donne and the first-place 15-8 Chicago Sky on Sunday. That game will be televised on CPTV Sports, and tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. ET.
The Sun return home on Thursday, Aug. 22, when they will entertain Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Lindsey Moore and the Western Division-leading Minnesota Lynx. Tip-off at the Mohegan Sun Arena is slated for 6 p.m.