MONTVILLE, Conn. — Following Brittney Griner's sentencing in Russia to nine years in prison Thursday, WNBA players, coaches and fans locked arms and tried to send the American basketball star strength during a moment of silence.
Before the Connecticut Sun beat the Phoenix Mercury 77-64, players from both teams met at midcourt and silently bowed their heads for 42 seconds — a nod to Griner's jersey number with the Mercury.
Sun coach Curt Miller wore a “WE ARE BG” t-shirt.
Griner, a two-time U.S. Olympic champion and an eight-time WNBA all-star, was convicted of drug possession and smuggling by Judge Anna Sotnikova.
She was sentenced to nearly a decade in a politically charged case that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.
Griner showed little emotion to the sentence, but her lawyers said later she was “very upset, very stressed.”
U.S. President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Griner had told the court she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason.
While her short-handed WNBA team played without her on the road, Jonquel Jones had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Brionna Jones added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Sun.
Phoenix was also without Diana Taurasi, who didn't play due to a leg injury, for the first time this season.
Courtney Williams scored 11 points and Alyssa Thomas had nine points, 13 rebounds and six assists for Connecticut (22-10). The Sun also beat Phoenix 87-63 on Tuesday.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 16 points for Phoenix (13-19).
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