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We've got Bentley ... you know the rest

New York

They beat Phoenix, perhaps the league's most talented team, the night before, the signature win in the Anne Donovan era for the Connecticut Sun. They had to make 10 three-pointers and two buzzer-beaters to win by one. And so an unkind observer could have dismissed a memorable win in Neon Uncasville as an aberration.

But this? This was different. This was Friday night in the big, bad city. This was the Garden. And the better rested New York Liberty, who hadn't played since Tuesday, waiting impatiently for the Sun to arrive. Their bus did so in the early hours of Friday morning.

It was all there. Desperate Liberty, at home. Tired Sun, on the road, hungover from Thursday's nirvana.

Then the game started.

And it turned out to be a more modern rendition of Patrick Henry: Give me Liberty … or give me Alex Bentley.

Connecticut 83, New York 75.

The Sun have won three straight. They sent the Liberty, whose first-round draft choice belongs to Connecticut, deeper into the cellar. All while Bentley stayed hotter than Satan's shorts.

One women's basketball observer said Friday that Connecticut basketball, with a Bentley handling the ball for the Sun and a (Mo) Jefferson doing so for UConn, is "movin' on up." Tremendous "Jeffersons" reference.

A brief recap of Bentley's last three games:

Saturday vs. Indiana: 9-13 shooting, career-high 21 points.

Thursday vs. Phoenix: 9-12 shooting, career-high 22 points.

Friday vs. New York: 9-13 shooting, career-high 24 points.

She can become the first player in Sun history to score 20 in four straight games Sunday when the Sun play New York at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"That's why we traded for her," Donovan said. "A very confident player, clearly."

And how badly they needed her Friday. The Sun waltzed their way to a 20-point lead at halftime. They led by 22 in the third period, the Garden eerily quiet. Then perhaps fatigue caught up with Connecticut. Or New York awakened. Whatever. The 22-point lead melted to two with plenty of time left.

Bentley scored 10 points in the last 6:42, including a banked-in 3-pointer that added to Bill Laimbeer's misery. Maybe the best play of all, though, was the moments before her two free throws with the Sun leading 70-68, a little more than four minutes left.

Bentley took a spill on the foul that sent her to the line. Her hair became a bit disheveled. And it took her a good 30 seconds, maybe longer, to reposition it the way she liked. Laimbeer even got off the bench, palms up, asking for an explanation for the delay.

It sure looked as though Bentley was purposely stalling to give her teammates a few more seconds of rest.

But, alas …

"I was really trying to out my hair up," she said. "Honest truth."

(Sorry, but the other theory is more fun).

Either way, Bentley delivered Connecticut to a monster victory, their first on the road since last August. On a back to back. After a wild night Thursday.

"It's not easy playing back to back," Katie Douglas said. "I don't feel like we handled the Indy/Chicago back to back very well (last month). I was definitely interested to see how we'd respond."

Donovan, meanwhile, said back to backs are overrated, essentially.

"(Indiana coach) Lin Dunn wants to complain about back to backs (after last Saturday's loss to the Sun) and you guys want to say (Saturday's win over Indiana) wasn't a good win because (Indiana) was playing a back to back," Donovan said. "I mean, (expletive). Everybody has back to backs. Everybody has a tough schedule. It's about how strong of mind you are."

Bentley's mind appears fine.

"It's basketball, man," she said. "A 40-minute game. You have to push through fatigue. We're on a roll and we want to work hard to stay on a roll."

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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