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Sun-Silver Stars Preview

Jul 6, 2010 - 7:12 AM By ANTHONY GIORNALISTA STATS Senior Writer

Connecticut (10-6) at San Antonio (5-9), 8:00 p.m. EDT

Even outstanding rookie Tina Charles struggled in the Connecticut Sun's last contest. A matchup with a Western Conference team, though, may give them a good opportunity to bounce back quickly.

Charles and the Sun look to remain undefeated this season against West foes as they visit the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday night.

Connecticut (10-6) lost 92-80 to Chicago on Thursday, falling to 1-2 on a season-high six-game road trip that will be interrupted by this weekend's All-Star break. The Sun have lost three of five but are in third place in the East, and only two games behind conference-leading Atlanta.

Charles, the first overall pick in this year's draft, has played a large role so far by leading the league with 12.1 rebounds per game while averaging 15.2 points and 1.6 blocks.

But Charles struggled versus the Sky, going 2 for 9 from the field and committing five turnovers. She finished with five points and six rebounds.

Charles also had a run of six straight double-doubles snapped, falling one shy of matching the league record, set by Seattle's Lauren Jackson in 2003.

In her previous game, Charles had 16 points and 12 rebounds to help Connecticut improve to 6-0 against the West with a 101-89 win over Tulsa last Tuesday.

Last year, the Sun were 6-6 versus the opposing conference.

Sandrine Gruda added 17 points and nine rebounds against the Shock. The third-year forward is averaging 15.3 points and shooting 61.2 percent over her last seven games.

Gruda has helped the Sun overcome the absence of guard Anete Jekabsone-Zogota, who has missed two straight games due to a right knee injury. Jekabsone-Zogota, who is averaging 9.3 points, will undergo arthroscopic surgery and be sidelined from two to four weeks.

With Jekabsone-Zogota out, the 6-foot-4 Gruda has stepped into a starting role, giving Connecticut a bigger lineup.

Gruda was held to two points off the bench against San Antonio (5-9) on June 6 but Connecticut limited the Silver Stars to 41.8 percent shooting in an 81-68 victory.

San Antonio also struggled against Los Angeles on Thursday, committing 18 turnovers in a 73-63 loss. The Silver Stars outscored the Sparks 24-9 in the third quarter, but Los Angeles had a 10-point edge in the fourth.

"We just have to do a better job," coach Sandy Brondello said. "We can't come to play for just 15 minutes."

Becky Hammon, who missed last month's matchup with the Sun due to a right quadriceps injury, leads the Silver Stars with 15.5 points per game. Hammon is averaging 20.0 points over her last three contests, going 10 for 18 from 3-point range.

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