It looked like Connecticut was going to get out and run away with the season opener against Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at IMG Academy, but it didn’t quite happen. The Sun had a seven point lead after three quarters, but the Lynx, powered by Napheesa Collier and Crystal Dangerfield, fired off a 27-12 final 10 minutes to get the win over the Sun, 77-69. Connecticut drops to 0-1 in the Wubble, while Minnesota starts off the 2020 WNBA season at 1-0.
The Sun were hot out of the gate, particularly Alyssa Thomas. She couldn’t miss to start the game, and her teammates were zipping around the court as Connecticut got out to a 15-8 start. Once they had control, it looked like they were going to be able to keep control. Connecticut was up by seven at the end of the first quarter, and then by nine at half. DeWanna Bonner, who scored 19 points in her Sun debut, pushed the lead to 11 immediately in the third quarter, and the Sun spent the entire period keeping the margin in that neighborhood. They couldn’t get it larger, but they kept getting it back to 11.
It was just seven at the start of the fourth quarter, and, well, that’s when Minnesota remembered to get their three-point shots to go through the net. The Lynx missed their first 11 long range attempts of the game, but then hit four of their last six in the fourth quarter. A 6-0 run by the Lynx to start the quarter made it a one-point game, and from there, Connecticut just couldn’t get themselves back in gear. 6-0 eventually turned into 22-8, and by that point, the Sun didn’t have anything left in the tank. As the Lynx got Dangerfield and Collier going, they also figured out how to shut down Thomas, and the Sun couldn’t get anyone else rolling to balance that out.
We’re mostly here to talk about Natisha Hiedeman, of course, because this is still technically a Marquette blog. Hiedeman got just under 12 minutes of run for head coach Curt Miller in her first ever season opener in the WNBA. She went 2-for-6 from the floor for five points and added two rebounds as well. In something of a weird occurrence, both of Hiedeman’s buckets came to beat the timer. She bombed in a triple to beat the shot clock in the first half, and then a stutter step hesitation pull up snuck in just under the wire at the end of the third quarter.
Up Next: It’s always a quick turnaround in the Wubble, as Connecticut will be back in action on Tuesday evening. Tip-off is set for 6pm Central time for a rematch of the 2019 WNBA Finals, as the Sun will square off with the Washington Mystics. As the halftime show was happy to tell us, Washington has undergone just about as much changeover in the offseason as Connecticut has. The Mystics opened up the season with a 101-76 victory over Indiana on Saturday.