WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (Ticker) -- Lindsay Whalen and the Connecticut Sun are a step closer to where they ultimately want to get.

Whalen scored 14 of her 22 points in the first half as the Sun posted a 76-61 victory over the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Katie Douglas added 17 points and six rebounds for the Sun, who have lost in the WNBA Finals in each of the last two seasons. They again are the favorites to reach the championship round.

With Whalen leading the way, the top-seeded Sun built a 40-32 halftime lead against the fourth-seeded Mystics. They stretched the advantage to as many as 16 points in the third quarter before the Mystics fought back in the final period.

"We just had to come out and play as hard as possible and that's what we tried to do," Whalen said. "Just play hard and make things happen. I was trying to take what was coming to me, basically."

"The only disappointing thing was our turnovers," said Sun coach Mike Thibault, whose team had 17 turnovers, including seven by Douglas. "Other than that, I don't think you could ask for a better start."

A 3-pointer by Crystal Robinson with 7:50 remaining pulled the Mystics within 58-55. However, reserve guard Erin Phillips answered with a 3-pointer at the 6:58 mark to trigger a 9-2 surge that gave the Sun control for good.

Margo Dydek added 12 points and Asjha Jones 11 for the Sun, who could win the series at home Sunday. Jones, who averaged 19.2 points during the regular season to rank sixth in the league, made just 3-of-15 shots

Connecticut shot 48 percent (31-of-65) and held a 38-30 rebounding advantage.

DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 15 points and Coco Miller 12 for Washington, which lost both of its regular-season meetings at Connecticut by double digits.

"It was very hard to see our team struggle offensively like that," Milton-Jones said. "This was a tough loss because in a situation like this you have to get that first win. This was a must-win, but it didn't happen tonight. We still have a chance. We have two more potential games to play. I'll be darned if the Washington Mystics don't come to play in the next game."