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More than motivated

Mohegan - Renee Montgomery said there wasn't any extra motivation for her Thursday night, although she was playing against Lindsay Whalen, the former Connecticut Sun point guard who was traded to the Minnesota Lynx during the offseason for Montgomery.

Montgomery sure played differently than she had in Connecticut's previous three games, however, scoring a game-high 23 points along with six assists as the Sun routed the Lynx, 105-79, before 6,401 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It was the most points the Sun have ever scored in regulation at the Arena.

Connecticut (3-1) acquired Montgomery and the rights to the No. 1 pick in April's draft after dealing Whalen and the second overall pick.

Asked if there was anything to playing against Whalen, who ran the point in Connecticut for six seasons, Montgomery said, "That's tough to say. I guess so."

She paused for a moment and added, "Not really. I think more oomph would be added to me because I know she's (Whalen) a premier point guard in the league.

"I feel like night in and night out, there's always a good point that I'm playing against. But there are premier point guards and she's one of them. Whenever you play someone like that, you always want to try to perform well because she's proven herself through the years."

Montgomery made eight of 11 shots, including three of five 3-pointers.

Whalen had six points and two assists for the Lynx (1-4).

"I'm sure you guys get more of a kick out of it than we do," Montgomery said about the hype of playing against Whalen and her former team. "I think the thing I was most excited for coming into this game is that I felt the best I've felt all season. The first day of practice this year (April 26), I sprained my ankle. That was annoying for a long time. Then I tweaked my hamstring. This is the best I've felt."

Center Tina Charles, who the Sun drafted first overall, scored 19 of her 21 points in the first half and added a game-high 10 rebounds.

It didn't look good for Montgomery minutes into the game. She was guarding Whalen, leaped for a loose ball, and grimaced as she came down. That set off a momentary panic for Montgomery and coach Mike Thibault, given her sore hamstring.

"There are times you overextend it (and there's) a little pain," Montgomery said. "It kind of more scares me than anything else because how it felt before."

Montgomery should get scared more often - she had 12 points and five assists by halftime.

"I think you can't help, as an athlete, to think about that," Thibault said when asked if players get more motivated going against someone they were traded for. "I think you want to show people why somebody wanted you.

"The other part of it is that I sat down with Renee this week and tried to encourage her to be more aggressive offensively. And part of it is her being healthy. … This was probably the first day she felt this week that she had a full motor."

Tan White had 22 points off the bench for the Sun and rookie Kelsey Griffin added 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Connecticut had a scary moment early in the second quarter when Minnesota's Rashanda McCants, who was going for a rebound, mowed down the Sun's Kerri Gardin, suffering a possible head injury. Gardin lay on the floor for over a minute before leaving the game. Thibault said Gardin would be evaluated by medical personnel after the game.

n.griffen@theday.com

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