With Alex Bentley enjoying a breakout stretch, the Connecticut Sun hardly resemble the same team that finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season.
As their second-year guard looks to stay on a roll, the Sun go for their fourth straight victory and a sweep of a home-and-home set with the New York Liberty on Sunday.
Bentley led the way for the third consecutive game Friday, scoring a career-high 24 as Connecticut (5-6) built a 20-point lead before holding on for an 83-75 win at Madison Square Garden.
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Since averaging 6.9 points and shooting 35.9 percent in her first eight games, Bentley has scored 22.3 per game on 71.1 percent shooting during the Sun’s longest win streak since they took the final three of the 2012 season.
"Alex is a very confident player," 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."
The victory snapped a 12-game road skid dating to an 88-66 win over New York in Newark, N.J., on Aug. 3 of last season, which ended with a franchise-worst 10-24 record.
Rookie Chiney Ogwumike continued her solid start with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds, while Katie Douglas scored 14 and went 4 of 9 from 3-point range.
Douglas, averaging 15.0 points during the win streak, has made 8 of 13 from beyond the arc in the last two games. The Sun have gone 22 for 37 overall from long range in victories over Indiana, Phoenix and New York.
"We’re definitely maturing as a team and it’s great to have a winning streak," said Ogwumike, averaging team highs of 16.5 points and 8.5 boards. "We need to keep working hard though to get wins."
Those have been difficult to come by for the last-place Liberty (3-7), who have dropped five of six.
After trailing by 20 at halftime Friday, New York clawed back to cut the deficit to two in the fourth quarter a few times but couldn’t get over the hump.
Former Sun center Tina Charles finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Cappie Pondexter scored 20, but no other New York player reached double figures. Charles is averaging a team-high 16.8 points, while Pondexter has put up 14.1.
"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."
The Liberty have won their last two visits to Mohegan Sun Arena, including a 75-54 victory in the season opener May 16.
Pondexter scored 17 and Charles added nine points and nine rebounds, while Ogwumike led the Sun with 13 points in her WNBA debut.