Bentley leads Sun to 83-75 win over Liberty
NEW YORK (AP) Alex Bentley is a big reason for Connecticut's success lately.
The second-year guard scored 24 points, the third consecutive game she's had over 20, and the Sun withstood a furious New York rally to beat the Liberty 83-75 on Friday night.
Bentley has made 27 of her last 38 shots over the three-game winning streak, including going 9 of 13 against the Liberty.
''Alex is a very confident player,'' Sun coach Anne Donovan said. ''She's always had confidence in her shots. For us it's getting to understand what we wanted from the point guard position. She's very coachable.''
Donovan was also impressed by her team's maturity. The Sun didn't fold after nearly blowing a 20-point lead.
''It's lot like the Minnesota game which was the second of the year,'' Donovan said. ''We went up huge at Minnesota, they made their way back and we didn't respond and wilted. I'm really proud of this team that's showing improvement in situations like that.''
The victory snapped a 12-game road losing streak for the Sun dating back to Aug. 3 of last season. That win also came in New York.
''We're definitely maturing as a team and it's great to have a winning streak,'' said rookie Chiney Ogwumike, who added 20 points for the Sun. ''We need to keep working hard though to get wins.''
Connecticut (5-6) dominated the first 20 minutes of the game in building a 20-point halftime lead. The Sun led 59-41 with 3:49 left in the third quarter before New York (3-7) closed the period on an 11-2 run and then cut the deficit to two points in the fourth quarter a few times. The Liberty just couldn't take the lead.
Two free throws by Tina Charles made it 70-68 with 4:34 left before Bentley and Connecticut put the game away. Bentley hit a free throw to start a 6-0 run to give the Sun a cushion. She then hit a jumper with 2:05 left to make it 78-71. She sealed the game banking a 3-pointer in with the shot clock running down.
Charles led New York with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Cappie Pondexter added 20 points.
''We need to figure out how to get out to a better start,'' Pondexter said. ''We showed what we can do in the second half, but we can't keep spotting teams huge leads.''
New York needs to figure out ways to get other players involved on offense. No other Liberty player reached double figures beside Charles and Pondexter.
Connecticut came into New York off a thrilling one-point win over Phoenix on Thursday night. The Sun made 10 of their 13 3-pointers in that game. They stayed hot against the Liberty.
Connecticut took a 26-10 lead after the first quarter, hitting five of their first six 3-pointers. They closed the period hitting four straight, including one by Renee Montgomery with a second left to make it 46-26.
The Sun finished the game 8 for 15 from behind the arc. The two teams will play again in Connecticut on Sunday.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg