Connecticut 80, Washington 70
Sun Force Game 3
UNCASVILLE, Conn., Sept. 28 (Ticker) -- Lindsay Whalen scored 21 points as the Connecticut Sun started fast en route to an 80-70 win over the Washington Mystics, tying their Eastern Conference semifinal series at a game apiece.
The series will be decided on Wednesday in Connecticut.
"Tonight we ran up and down the court, we played really hard and the ball went in at the start, which allowed us to get some confidence," Sun coach Mike Thibault said.
Whalen came within a point of matching the Sun's playoff franchise scoring high and did the bulk of her work on the foul line. She was 15-of-16 on free throws as Connecticut set a WNBA record for foul shots attempted and made in a 30-for-32 performance.
"We got to the line and we got the ball inside to draw some contact," Whalen said. "Obviously, knocking some free throws down is going to help, especially in the playoffs."
"She was pretty good," Thibault said of Whalen. "The biggest stat for her was that she played as many minutes as she did and not have any turnovers."
Whalen also led the Sun with six assists.
Sales added 13 points and Wendy Palmer -- who was named as a co-recipient of the WNBA Most Improved Player Award on Monday -- had 12.
Washington, which outrebounded the Sun in Game 1 by 12 on its way to an eight-point win, was blitzed in the opening surge. Connecticut had three layups within the first 63 seconds and got a pair of free throws from Sales to grab an 8-0 advantage.
After Nakia Sanford scored three points to get the Mystics on the board, the Sun scored the next 11, finished by a 17-footer from Sales.
"We were more aggressive," Whalen said. "I think that in Game 1 we may have been cautious. We got a lot of loose balls that led to easy baskets and we did a better job rebounding tonight."
Down the stretch, Washington could get no closer than nine on a basket by Alana Beard with 1:49 left. Connecticut hit 3-of-4 free throws and got a jumper from Asjha Jones in the closing minutes to finish the scoring.
"It's simple, it was the first five minutes," Beard said. "They set the tone, they attacked the basket. We were soft and it showed.
"We allowed them to do what they wanted to do. We beat ourselves, but I'm not taking anything away from them."
Tamicha Jackson had 17 points off the bench and Beard poured in 15 for the Mystics, who will have to steal Wednesday's series finale on the road to win their first playoff series since 2002.
"(Jackson's play) was the only positive we had tonight," Washington coach Michael Adams said. "That was a positive we can take to the next game. Hopefully I can find minutes for her and hopefully we'll all be in sync on Wednesday and take care of business.
"It's going to be a dogfight, I can tell you that," Beard said.
Including the regular season, both teams have won six of their last eight.