Bentley leads Sun past Dream 84-55 in finale
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut Sun head into the offseason with a win, and the Atlanta Dream go into the playoffs with a loss.
Alex Bentley had 19 points and four assists as Connecticut wrapped up its season with an 84-55 rout of Atlanta on Sunday.
Angel McCoughtry scored 10 points for the Dream (19-15), who had already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Sunday was not how Atlanta wanted to head into the postseason. Its 55 points were a franchise low, and it lost 10 of its final 14 games.
''I thought we became very passive,'' coach Michael Cooper said. ''We had 26 turnovers, and that is not championship basketball.''
Chiney Ogwumike had 14 points and seven rebounds and fellow rookie Alyssa Thomas added 13 points and four assists for the Sun (13-21), who will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
''I feel pretty empty,'' coach Anne Donovan said. ''It's a great win, and I'm really happy that we were able to play everybody. Everybody was able to step in and produce, but I'm not looking forward to having a longer offseason than I already have.''
Bentley scored six points during a 10-0 run to give the Sun an early 19-9 lead. They never trailed again.
''It's bittersweet right now,'' Bentley said. ''Obviously, we aren't where we wanted to be at the end of season, but we finished strong. I'm proud of my teammates for that.''
Connecticut pushed its lead to double digits in the second half.
''Every game needs to be played hard as expected, but Connecticut came out and played harder,'' McCoughtry said. ''They had something to prove, like, `We are not in the playoffs, but we are going to show we deserve to be there.' On our part, we need to come out more focused every game.''
Ogwumike thought the Sun made a statement.
''Even though we aren't in the playoffs, you see the potential of this team and the potential is great,'' she said.
The Sun rebuilt themselves this season around a young nucleus and struggled with both inexperience and a lack of perimeter shooting.
Connecticut now looks forward to the offseason, beginning with Thursday's WNBA Draft lottery. It has a 28 percent chance of winning the first pick for the second season with two selections - its own, and the first-round pick the Sun acquired from New York as part of a package for All-Star center Tina Charles on the night of April's draft.
''I think we're young. We're learning. We are playing together. We're unselfish, and we are only going to go up from here,'' Donovan said.
Atlanta needs to regroup with the playoffs starting this week. It has won the conference title three of the past four seasons.
''The two games before this, we were playing great and everything was going well,'' rookie Shoni Schimmel said, ''and for this game to happen, it was kind of like a reality check for us.''