UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut coach Mike Thibault warned his team not to take the short-handed Los Angeles Sparks for granted. The Sun listened.
Lindsay Whalen scored 13 of her 22 points in the third quarter and the Sun beat the Sparks 87-61 on Thursday night.
"I think our team learned a lot tonight about the consequences if you get yourself into a tough situation," Thibault said. "I told them this morning that no matter who was on the floor for them, they were going to play hard."
The Sparks were without Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker and DeLisha Milton-Jones, who were all suspended for one game by the WNBA for their involvement in Tuesday's altercation with the Detroit Shock. The three Olympians combined to average 48 points and 24 rebounds.
Shannon Bobbitt and Murriel Page were both suspended for two games, but Page was able to play because teams must be able to suit up a minimum of eight players.
"We couldn't worry about who wasn't here," said Page, who will start serving her suspension Friday when Los Angeles visits New York. "The league did what it did and there is nothing we can do about it. We'll regroup and play in New York with our full unit there."
Los Angeles will have its three Olympians back Friday, but the sellout crowd of 9,518 didn't get to see them play Thursday night.
"I feel bad for the Connecticut fans since we only come here once a year," Los Angeles Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. "They will have to wait until next year to see Candace and Lisa play."
Thibault echoed Cooper's sentiments.
"I really wish they were playing," Thibault said. "We had such a good game out in Los Angeles, I wanted to see where we stacked up now. These fans are going to miss out on seeing some of the best players in the league."
The Sparks beat the Sun 99-93 in overtime on June 13.
Without their three stars Thursday, the Sparks were forced to start Jessica Moore, Sidney Spencer and Temeka Johnson and struggled offensively, shooting 35 percent from the field.
Johnson scored a season-high 11 points to lead the Sparks (14-11). Page and Marie Ferdinand-Harris each added 10.
"It was a dangerous game for us," said Sandrine Gruda, who scored a career-high 16 points for Connecticut.
Amber Holt and Barbara Turner each added 12.
Los Angeles was able to hang with Connecticut for most of the first half behind the strong play of Page, who scored seven points.
"I think we learned alot about our team. We were able to do what we wanted in the first quarter and then things started to fall apart on us," Cooper said. "I'm happy with the effort we put forth tonight. It's only one game."
Leading 25-24 early in the second quarter, the Sun closed the period on a 9-2 run, holding Los Angeles to just one field goal over the final 8 minutes of the period. Connecticut (15-10) led 34-26 at the break.
The Sun extended the lead in the third quarter behind Whalen. She hit layup after layup, and her nifty three-point play with 5:25 left in the period gave the Sun a 51-36 advantage. Whalen was 7-for-10 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line in the game.
"She felt fresh," Thibault said. "She really pushed it and tried to attack."
Connecticut, which plays at Washington on Sunday in its last game before the Olympics break, built its lead to 28 points in the fourth.