A solid effort by Sun

Connecticut's Alex Bentley drives past Indiana's Natasha Howard during the first half of Saturday night's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Bentley scored 21 points as the Sun rolled to an 88-71 victory.
Connecticut's Alex Bentley drives past Indiana's Natasha Howard during the first half of Saturday night's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Bentley scored 21 points as the Sun rolled to an 88-71 victory. Fred Beckham/AP Photo

Mohegan — Chiney Ogwumike was in a full sprint to catch a pass in transition early in the third quarter when she was bumped out of bounds by an Indiana Fever player and crashed into a cameraman.

It was the second time in the game that a Connecticut player was fouled and crashed into a cameraman.

"I'm not afraid to put my body out there, especially when my guards are awarding me with a pass," the rookie said after the Sun ground out an 88-71 win over the Indiana Fever on Saturday night.

"I'll do anything to catch it," Ogwumike added with a grin. "This time it involved taking out a cameraman. They better be aware because I'm not stopping."

Saturday's game wasn't pretty before 5,105 at Mohegan Sun Arena. It had all the flow of a snowmobile in a mud bog. Connecticut had to play through with Ogwumike, its leading scorer, limited to a little over 18 minutes due to foul trouble.

The Sun had to mix it up with one of the league's most mentally and physically tough teams.

Connecticut had to find a way to keep its offensive rhythm in a game that became excruciating thanks to the officials.

The teams combined for 56 field goals.

The teams were called for a combined 53 fouls.

The all-new and very young Sun hadn't shown the ability to fight through adversity early this season. They did Saturday night.

"You're going to hit some obstacles, some adversity throughout games," Connecticut's Alex Bentley said. "We just have to adjust to it, and that's what we did tonight."

Bentley came through huge for the Sun (3-6). She scored a career-high 21 points with five assists.

"That's who Alex is," Sun coach Anne Donovan said. "It's no surprise to any of us who have been coaching her all this time. … She has the capability of having that kind of offensive night."

Kelsey Griffin came off the bench and had seven rebounds and a career-high six steals. She also drew four charges. In the first half.

"She comes in as an undersized post who people think they can take advantage of, and she just, with her hustle, made up for Chiney's (Ogwumike) absence pretty quickly," Donovan said. "Blue collar all the way. An overachiever in every sense. She outworks everybody on the floor. There is nobody who wouldn't want to play with her because of her help defense."

Starter Kelsey Bone (nine points, five rebounds) also played strong inside with Ogwumike out.

Allison Hightower had 11 points and five assists and Katie Douglas scored 15. Rookie reserve Alyssa Thomas added 11 points. Ogwumike scored eight of her 12 at the free throw line.

"My teammates did a heck of a job," Ogwumike said. "Kelsey Griffin, rebounding and taking defensive charges. Kelsey Bone being tough in there (the post). Then we had guards like KT being really aggressive and getting to the free throw line."

Rookie Natasha Howard had 14 points for Indiana (4-4). She fouled out with five minutes, 27 seconds left despite playing just over 20 minutes. Reserve Lynetta Kizer scored 12 and Shavonte Zellous had 10 points for the Fever.

"We fouled too much, way too much," Indiana coach Linn Dunn said. "Give Connecticut credit. They played well tonight."

Bentley picked the Sun up early by scoring eight of their first 10 points.

Indiana cut a 45-35 halftime deficit down to six points with over four minutes left in the third quarter.

Bentley immediately hit the Fever with a 3-pointer, followed by an off-balance jumper, to push Connecticut ahead, 58-47.

n.griffen@theday.com

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