Sun-Liberty Preview

After finishing with the two worst records in the Eastern Conference in 2013, the New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun shook up their rosters by completing a blockbuster deal on draft night.

The teams, though, again occupy the last two spots in the conference heading into the opener of a home-and-home series Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Liberty went 11-23 and Connecticut finished a WNBA-worst 10-24 last year, leading to the Sun selecting Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike with the top overall pick April 14.

Minutes later, Connecticut sent franchise player Tina Charles to New York in exchange for No. 4 pick Alyssa Thomas and forward Kelsey Bone, the fifth overall selection in 2013.

Charles is having a solid season with 15.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, but New York is off to a 3-6 start. The Liberty lost for the fourth time in five games Tuesday, 72-57 at Tulsa, despite Charles’ season-high 25 points.

She was the only player in double figures for the Liberty, who shot 35.4 percent and are second-to-last in the league with 70.1 points per game.

That lack of scoring could hinder New York with the Sun (4-6) riding a pair of strong offensive performances to consecutive victories. Connecticut set a season high for points in an 88-71 win over Indiana on Saturday and topped that mark with Thursday’s 96-95 victory against Phoenix.

Katie Douglas had 16 points against the Mercury – including all of Connecticut’s points during a late 9-2 run – after scoring 15 Saturday.

”As our veteran, she’s been keeping us engaged and focused on getting these wins," second-year guard Alex Bentley said.

The Sun, who concluded a 3-1 homestand, haven’t won three in a row since the end of the 2012 season.

Bentley, acquired from Washington on March 12, had a career-best 21 points against the Fever before scoring 22 on Thursday as the Sun opened a stretch of three games in four days.

Bentley was selected 13th overall by Atlanta and was named to the league’s all-rookie team in 2013 before the Dream sent her to the Mystics in the offseason.

"I’m going to play whatever role (coach) Anne (Donovan) needs me to play," Bentley said. "We are a young team. We are a new team, so we are still finding our niche and doing things together. Whatever I need to do for the team to win is what I’m going to do."

The Liberty rolled to a 75-54 win at Connecticut in the season opener for both teams May 16 as Cappie Pondexter scored 17 and Charles added nine points and nine rebounds. Ogwumike led the Sun with 13 points in her WNBA debut.

Connecticut has lost 12 straight on the road since beating New York 88-66 in Newark, N.J., on Aug. 3. The Liberty played their home games there from 2011-13 as MSG was undergoing a $1 billion renovation.

These teams conclude the home-and-home set Sunday.