By PAT EATON-ROBB
Posted Oct 11 2012 10:45PM
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Tamika Catchings scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Indiana Fever into the WNBA Finals for the second time in four seasons with an 87-71 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 3 on Thursday night.
The Fever, who have won four games while facing elimination during the playoffs, rallied after losing star Katie Douglas to an ankle injury just 5 minutes into the game.
Douglas had been the team's leading scorer in the playoffs, and had 51 points in the first two games of this series.
Erin Philips picked up some of the scoring slack with 15 points. The Fever hit 10 3-pointers, including their first seven.
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, who 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 and 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.
The Fever star had been the leading scorer in the series, putting up 27 in the opener and 24 on Monday night.
Philips 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.
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.
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, hasn'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 are trying to become the first team to overcome 1-0 deficits in the first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs to win a league title. They were 0-6 in road game in five Eastern Conference finals coming into Thursday's game.
Connecticut, which swept New York in the opening round, came in having won five straight at home.