Sun blazing into matchup with struggling Sparks

Owners of the best record in the WNBA, the Connecticut Sun will aim to improve that mark on Tuesday night in Uncasville, Conn., when they host the Los Angeles Sparks for the first meeting between the teams this season.

The Sun (12-1) are coming off an 85-67 road win over the Dallas Wings on Saturday in which five Connecticut players finished with double figures in scoring. Rachel Banham had 16 points, while Alyssa Thomas flirted with a triple-double of 13 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Thomas leads the WNBA in assists this season with 8.2 per game.

Also impressive was the Sun’s defense, as they held the league’s second-leading scorer — Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale — to just 11 points on 2-of-15 shooting. Dallas also shot just 1-of-16 (6.3 percent) as a team from 3-point land.

On the defensive side of the ball, DiJonai Carrington has been a huge boost to the Sun in her fourth season, often taking on the task of guarding the opponent’s top perimeter player — whether it’s Ogunbowale or Indiana’s Cailtin Clark.

“Defense is a lot of effort and just staying locked in,” Carrington said. “I feel strong. I feel light on my feet. I feel like I’m floating out there, gliding.”

The Sparks (4-10) have lost three straight games, most recently falling to the Atlanta Dream 87-74 on Sunday despite 16 points apiece from rookies Rickea Jackson and Cameron Brink.

Despite the Sparks’ struggles, the play of Dearica Hamby has been a bright spot. The two-time All-Star and two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year is averaging a career-high 19 points per game, and her 11.1 rebounds per game are second-best in the league so far.

Hamby, 30, recently signed an extension with the Sparks, keeping her on the team’s rebuilding roster through 2025.

“Dearica brings leadership, mentorship, skill, toughness, grit and courage daily,” Sparks general manager Raegan Pebley said. “Some of her best days are still ahead of her, and we are excited to partner with her as she pursues them.”

The Sun have won nine straight regular-season meetings against the Sparks. The last win for Los Angeles came in 2020.

This game also marks another return to Mohegan Sun Arena for Sparks coach Curt Miller, who coached the Sun from 2016 through 2022, winning a pair of WNBA Coach of the Year awards during his tenure.

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