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Sun Sets On Connecticut

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UNCASVILLE, CT - OCTOBER 11:   Renee Montgomery #21 of the Connecticut Sun defends Erin Phillips #13 of the Indiana Fever during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals on October 11, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

UNCASVILLE, CT – OCTOBER 11: Renee Montgomery #21 of the Connecticut Sun defends Erin Phillips #13 of the Indiana Fever during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals on October 11, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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By PAT EATON-ROBB
Associated Press

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) _ Indiana lost a star early in Game 3 of
the Eastern Conference finals. The Fever never lost their
confidence.

Tamika Catchings scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to
lead Indiana into the WNBA Finals for the second time in four
seasons with an 87-71 win over the Connecticut Sun on Thursday
night.

The Fever, who have won four games while facing elimination
during the playoffs, routed the Sun even after leading scorer Katie
Douglas went down with an ankle injury just 5 minutes into the
game.

“When Katie went down, you could just see the fire in
everybody’s eyes,” coach Lin Dunn said. “We just took it to a
whole `nother level. We could have folded up our little tent and
gone home when one of our bigguns got hurt. But we didn’t.”

Douglas had been the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs, and
had 51 points in the first two games of this series.

The bench picked up the slack with 32 points, led by Erin
Philips who had 15. The Fever hit 10 3-pointers, including their
first seven.

“Everyone just stepped up,” Phillips said. “We showed a lot
of poise and were aggressive. It was just an awesome team game.”

League MVP Tina Charles led the Sun with 18 points and 10
rebounds. Kara Lawson added 16 points.

Indiana will play at defending WNBA champion Minnesota, which
swept Los Angeles in the Western Conference, in Game 1 of the
best-of-five finals on Sunday.

The Fever were up 9-4 when Douglas missed a driving off-balance
jumper in the lane, came down on the foot of the Sun’s Tan White
and rolled her left ankle. She was taken to a hospital for X-Rays.

Dunn had no update after the game.

“I know we’re going to the Finals and Katie’s probably going to
tape it up…and get ready to play in the Finals, and we’ll see
what happens from there,” Catchings said.

The Fever’s star had been the leading scorer in the series,
putting up 27 in the opener and 24 on Monday night.

But Indiana only expanded its lead. Phillips had 10 first-half
points, and hit three of her four 3-point shots.

Indiana led 18-10 after the first quarter, and used a 12-0 run
to stretch that to 32-16.

The Fever were 7 of 7 from behind the arc in the first half,
while the Sun missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts. They were 0
for 12 before Lawson hit a 3-pointer late in the third quarter and
finished 4 of 18.

“It’s not a real good sign when you’re missing all of yours and
they are hitting everything,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said.

Indiana led 43-24 at halftime, and 68-48 after three quarters.

Indiana shot 55 percent from the field and 10 of 16 from 3-point
range.

Jeanette Pohlen, who hadn’t scored a basket since Sept. 28 for
Indiana, finished with 14 points and Briann January added 12.

“You play to make it to the Finals,” Catchings said. “So when
you get in a situation like this and we’re all circled around
(Douglas) on the floor, the one thing when we went back that we
talked about was when one person goes down, everybody steps up.”

Indiana forced this game with a 78-76 win in Game 2 on a jumper
by Shavonte Zellous with 0.5 seconds left. The Sun won the opener
76-64, holding Catchings to just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting.
She had 21 points in Indiana to help the Fever stave off
elimination.

The Sun, who have never won a WNBA title, haven’t been to the
finals since Douglas led them there in 2004 and 2005.

Indiana has made eight straight trips to the postseason, but has
played in the finals only once, losing to Phoenix in 2009.
Catchings and Douglas are both in their 11th seasons, and neither
has won a WNBA championship.

The Fever had never won a road elimination game in the playoffs.
They are trying to become the first team to overcome 1-0 deficits
in the first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs to win a title. They
were 0-6 in road game in five Eastern Conference finals coming into
Thursday’s game.

“I’m tired of hearing, `You can’t ever do this in the third
game’ or `You’ve never done this. You’ve never done that.”’ Dunn
said. “Now we’ve done it.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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