UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Sun finally beat the Atlanta Dream this season, and they can thank their reserves for the lift.
Tina Charles had 22 points and 14 rebounds to help the Sun beat the Dream 96-80 on Saturday night. Kara Lawson scored 18 points, Asjha Jones added 15 and Sandrine Gruda 14 as the Sun (12-8) improved to 8-1 at home and beat the Dream for the first time in three meetings this season.
With the score tied at 49-all with 6:06 left in the third quarter, the Sun used a 34-17 run to pull away. Connecticut's reserves scored 19 points in the spurt, including nine by Gruda.
"The bench gained the lead," fellow reserve Renee Montgomery said. "That's not a surprise. There's very talented players coming off the bench."
Connecticut moved one game behind first-place Washington and Atlanta in the Eastern Conference, and a half-game behind third-place Indiana.
Angel McCoughtry scored 27 points to lead Atlanta (14-8), which lost its third straight and dropped percentage points behind the Mystics. Sancho Lyttle added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Tan White, another Connecticut starter, had 10 points and seven assists.
McCoughtry's three-point play with 3 minutes to go pulled the Dream within eight, but they got no closer. Lawson scored eight points, including two 3s, in the final 2:45 to seal the Sun's win.
The Dream were coming off an 89-70 loss at Indiana on Friday night.
"I don't want to use (playing on successive nights) as an excuse," coach Marynell Meadors said. "(But) sometimes when you're fatigued, you make bad decisions and I thought that we had some bad offensive shot selection that led to their points. We got down in that hole, it was hard to come back."
Atlanta's luggage was lost, too, forcing Meadors to wear a team jumpsuit on the sidelines.
Charles started the tiebreaking run with a layup and her running hook shot gave the Sun a 59-53 lead with 2:42 left in the third quarter. Atlanta rallied and pulled to 63-62 on two free throws by Yelena Leuchanka in the final minute of the period.
Connecticut scored the next 10 points, including four by Gruda, to take a double digit lead with 7:45 to go. then used a 20-4 run to pull away. scored the next 10 points, including four by Gruda, to pull away with 7:45 left. A subsequent 10-2
After a layup by Lyttle, Charles had a free throw and a layup and Lawson hit a 3-pointer to put the Sun up 15 about 2 minutes later. Gardin made two from the line to cap the decisive run and give Connecticut an 83-66 lead with 4:55 left.