Sun 89, Mystics 73
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)
Connecticut's Danielle McCray had more than a year to think about what it would be like to play her first WNBA game.
Saturday's 89-73 win over Washington exceeded her expectations.
McCray, who suffered a knee injury during her senior season at Kansas and sat out her rookie year with the Sun, scored 14 points, hit all five shots she took from the field and had four 3-pointers.
''I can't really say I expected it, but I've been working hard,'' she said. ''So, I couldn't say it wasn't going to happen. I've been staying after for shooting and working on my shot a lot.''
Tina Charles had 18 points and six rebounds to lead Connecticut. Renee Montgomery added 15 points and Asjha Jones scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half.
Charles, who averaged more than 15 points and 11 rebounds in winning the league's Rookie of the Year honors last season, said McCray's outside shooting kept the defense from collapsing inside.
''I rarely got double teamed tonight,'' she said. ''It happened maybe a couple of times. But the way Danielle was hitting and the way our guards penetrated, it really opened things up underneath.''
Coach Trudy Lacey, in her first year with Washington, said she saw a lot to build upon.
''Nicky gives us a presence inside, she's going to help us a great deal,'' she said. ''She and Crystal Langhorne complement each other very well. We're all kind of new and young, but it will come together.''
The Sun led by 15 with just over 6 minutes left before Washington made a final push. A 3-point shot from Kelly Miller cut the lead to 78-68 with just over 3 minutes to play, but a steal by Tan White and a layup from Charles allowed Connecticut to cruise to the finish.
The Mystics' Alana Beard, who was expected back from an ankle injury that kept her out all of last season, was in street clothes. Lacey said she suffered a bruised left foot in the preseason and is ''day to day.'' The Mystics were already without Monique Currie, who sustained a season-ending knee injury over the winter.
Langhorne had 12 points in the first quarter to help the Mystics to an early lead, but Connecticut took a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter and led 45-39 at the half.
McCray came off the bench and her first two shots, both 3-pointers, helped spark the second-quarter surge.
''She just kind of took a deep breath and played a little bit,'' Sun coach Mike Thibault said.
The Sun opened the second half on a 13-5 run, getting strong defense from Charles, who brought the crowd to its feet when she stuffed former Tennessee star Anosike. The block sent her sprawling to the floor with Connecticut leading 60-46.
A half-court shot from Kelly Miller cut the deficit to 65-55 at the end of the third.
The Mystics went 22-12 a year ago, the best record in the Eastern Conference, but were swept out of the playoffs in the first round by Atlanta. The Sun finished 17-17 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Connecticut added forward Jessica Moore to the team last week, the fifth former UConn player to make the 11-player roster.
Connecticut paid tribute to former center Margo Dydek before the game with a moment of silence and video montage. The 7-foot-2 center, who played for the Sun from 2005-07, died Friday after being placed in a medically induced coma following a heart attack. She was 37.
Dydek was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 WNBA draft by the Utah Starzz, and played for San Antonio and Los Angeles, leading the league in blocks nine times.