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Sun Shine in Overtime, Beat Sparks


UNCASVILLE – It wasn’t pretty and it took and an additional five minutes to get the job done, but the Connecticut Sun beat the injury-riddled LA Sparks, 80-76, last night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Alex Bentley (Penn State) poured in 18 points and Camille Little (UNC) added 14 (13 in the second half) to lead the Sun, who also had five players score in double-figures.

Jantel Lavender (Ohio State) led all scorers with 22 points and 12 boards while rookie Andrea Hoover (Dayton) was impressive with 17 points in her first WNBA start.

The Eastern Conference leading Sun (7-1) has won seven straight and is off to its best start in seven years.

The Sun have started 8-1 twice (2005 and 2008) and were 7-1 in 2006.

Each of those seasons resulted in trips to the postseason with the Sun earning a spot in 2005 WNBA finals.

If history is any predictor the Sun are headed to the playoffs.

Los Angeles is 0-6 for the first time in in their WNBA franchise history.

Sun Coach Anne Donovan was pleased with the win even though her squad got off to a miserable start trailing 21-10 at the end of the first quarter and by 14 points (32-18) with 3:19 left in the first half before the Sun turned the tide.

“We played from behind pretty well, that is the good news. Overall, when you play a game that sluggish offensively it is a good thing to be able to fight through and get the win,” said the third year Sun coach and Hall of Famer.

“We showed good resilience tonight, particularly showing me a lot of heart when things weren’t going too well.”

Connecticut closed the first half with an 8-0 run in the final three minutes (capped by a Bentley stop and pop) to cut the deficit to 32-26.

The Sun shot a dismal 28.6% (10 of 35) in the first half but it was their defensive intensity in the second quarter that got them back in the game.

They held the Sparks to just 11 points in the second stanza.

“It was a bad night for us, we were not flowing in the beginning and fell behind,” said the Sun’s Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).

“We knew that we had to pick it up defensively, and when our defense is good that is when we are able to get our offense going.”

Little, the veteran forward who played for North Carolina, poured in 13 of her 14 points to spark a second half comeback.

The Sun forged into the lead when Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee) nailed a textbook catch–and-shoot three pointer to give the Sun a 47-45 lead with 2:25 left in the third quarter.

The teams would battle back and forth with the Sparks retaking the lead at 61-60 on a pretty Lavender scoop in the paint with 4 minutes left in regulation.

Lavender used the glass from close range to tie the score at 67 with 9 seconds left.

After a Sun timeout, Bentley’s long jumper from the top of the key would clang off the rim sending the teams to overtime.

Little gave the Sun an important boost in overtime as her short jumper made it 75-69 with 3:10 left in the first overtime.

However, LA would not quit and closed to 78-76 on a Nneka Ogwumike (Stanford) three with 5 seconds left.

“We fought and hung in there, we got down, but we hung around and I was proud of our efforts,” said Spark Coach Brian Agler.

“I think we learned a lot tonight about several people on our team.”

Bentley would seal the win with a pair of free throws to make the final 80-76.

“Hopefully, that is the worst basketball we will play this season,” said Bentley the Sun’s leading scorer.

“We still got the win, which speaks volumes to how hard we play and how we do not give up.”


The Sun shot a dismal 34.7% from the field (26 of 75).

They were 3 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Veteran Camille Little quietly continues to get the job done for the Sun on both ends of the floor. The UNC product was picked up in an offseason trade, along with Shekinna Stricklen, for Renee Montgomery and the 3rd and 15th picks in the 2015 WNBA draft.

Speaking of trades, the Sun has the magic touch in the exchange business, as Jasmine Thomas and Alex Bentley have found their way to Mohegan Sun Arena via the trade route.

Rookie guard Chelsea Gray (Duke) continues to impress as she came off the bench to score 9 points in the win over the Sparks. In the recently completed West Coast swing Gray averaged 12.3 ppg with nine assists and eight steals.

The Sun close out their three game home stand with the Indiana Fever (Tuesday, June 30) and Chicago Sky (Thursday, July 2).

Both games start at 7 p.m.

Follow Bob for all the Sun game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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