Sun-Liberty Preview

The Connecticut Sun began the season looking like one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. After a four-game skid, the more accurate label might simply be streaky.

The Sun will try to shift things back toward the preceding seven-game winning streak Thursday night in New York, but the Liberty are trending in a more favorable direction.

After a 7-1 start, the Sun are in danger of their first five-game losing streak since dropping seven in a row in August 2013. Most of the recent damage came at home, and Connecticut’s 4-1 road record is the best in the league.

In Tuesday’s 85-79 home loss to Minnesota, Alex Bentley scored 22 points to continue her breakout season. The guard’s 17.3 points per game is 5.1 higher than last year, and she’s averaging 19.6 in her last seven. She’s also hit 10 of 23 from 3-point range in the last four after going 4 for 8 against the Lynx.

Fellow third-year player Kelsey Bone chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds, and the center is averaging 17.0 points over her last six. Her average of 15.0 is up from 9.3 last season, and with her field-goal percentage up to 57.4 from 45.1, it’s no wonder why.

The team’s problems lie at the other end of the court, where Connecticut (7-5) has allowed 87.5 points per game on the losing streak.

The Liberty (8-5) have won four of five, including their last two in New York after Wednesday’s 84-68 victory over San Antonio. Essence Carson led the way with 16 points off the bench, while Epiphanny Prince had 13 in her home debut.

Prince, who missed the start of the season while competing with Russia in the EuroBasket 2015 tournament, has averaged 13.0 points in three games to give the Liberty another backcourt option to complement Tina Charles’ post presence.

"I think our scoring and our shooting will be a big lift with Epiphanny Prince in the game," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She is a solid guard and she is a quiet assassin.

"She’ll make a lot of big shots. She was a quality pickup for us. We have a good solid depth to our basketball team and she’s one to account for that."

Charles, named an All-Star starter Tuesday, is averaging 20.8 points in the last four.

"Obviously Tina has been our main weapon this season," Laimbeer told the team’s official website. "I think she is playing at a high level, she overcame some adversity during a small stretch in the beginning of the year, and is playing really well."

The Liberty took three of five in the 2014 season series and won the last two, both of which were played in New York. Charles averaged 17.2 points over the last four meetings, while Bentley managed 17.0.