“It just takes time,” coach Brian Agler said. “We have a lot of new players. It takes time to figure out the strengths of your team. It takes time for a team to jell and trust each other.
“I think since the Atlanta game (a 68-59 loss on Friday) our players had a lot of discussions between themselves and did a good job of bonding and coming together. There was a purpose to what we were doing today.”
Seattle (2-3) out-rebounded Connecticut (2-5) 35-27; scored 19 second-chance points as compared with nine for the Sun; had four players in double figures — Tina Thompson (17), Shekinna Stricklen (career-high 16), Camille Little (15) and Tanisha Wright (13) — and held the Sun to 41-percent (25 of 61) shooting.
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“(Stricklen) really had a good game,” said Agler. “She really gave us a lot of big spurts off the bench. She came in and hit some shots and played quality minutes for us.
Stricklen did most of her damage in the first half, which ended with Seattle leading 40-33, by scoring 11 points. But Thompson, Wright and Little helped pick up any slack after intermission.
Consecutive three-point baskets by Stricklen, Wright and Thompson gave Seattle what would prove to be its largest lead at 52-39 midway through the third quarter.
After Connecticut (which was led by Allison’s Hightower’s 17 points and Tina Charles’ 15) pulled within 59-53 early in the fourth, Little and Thompson combined to score eight of Seattle’s next 10 points for a 69-57 lead.
“We kind of hang our hats on our defense,” said Thompson of her team, which held Connecticut to 12 baskets in the second half. “When you’re playing defense it’s a grind. You really have to work.
“Tina (Charles) is a most valuable player. You have to make her uncomfortable and put her in a position where she’s not usually in.”
Charles, the WNBA’s 2012 MVP, was held to 27.8 percent shooting (5 of 18) by Seattle’s tenacious defense.
It was an impressive performance for a team that is still without injured stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
“It’s been a little interesting,” said Thompson. “We’re figuring out personalities and people coming into their own. A lot of the players on the team are in positions that they haven’t been in before, career-wise.
“We’re just going to keep on working. We’re a blue-collar team and just grinding it out. That’s how we’re going to have to be for the rest of the season.”