Connecticut 68, Washington 65
Sun Hold on Against Mystics, Advance to Conference Finals
UNCASVILLE, Conn., Aug. 20 (Ticker) -- A little bit of defense helped the Connecticut Sun stay on track to defend their Eastern Conference title.
Katie Douglas scored 16 points and the Sun allowed just 10 points in the pivotal third quarter en route to a 68-65 victory over the Washington Mystics and a sweep of their best-of-three first-round series.
"We have to be as intense (against Detroit) and work hard on defense and go from there," Whalen said.
Since moving to Connecticut before the 2003 season, the Suns are 8-1 in first-round games. The only loss came to the Mystics in 2004.
Connecticut held a 34-33 lead after a poor shooting first half for both teams. In the third quarter, however, the Sun clamped down even harder on the Mystics, who had more turnovers than baskets.
"I thought every one of their shots was well-contested in that quarter," said Connecticut's Mike Thibault, who was named WNBA Coach of the Year earlier Sunday.
Washington made just 3-of-15 shots while committing four giveaways. Whalen and Margo Dydek each scored six points in the period, which ended with Connecticut holding a 51-43 lead.
"Our defense has been good both games," Thibault said. "We tried to apply more pressure during that quarter. We didn't give up many second-chance shots. Our defense has been consistent against them this season."
"That definitely put us in a better position to win the game," Sun forward Nykesha Sales said.
The Mystics got no closer than four points until the final seconds. A free throw by McWilliams-Franklin pushed the advantage to 63-53 with 2:23 to play, and the Sun held on - barely.
Washington All-Star Alana Beard made a 3-pointer, steal and layup to cut the deficit to 66-65 with nine seconds remaining. She fouled Whalen - who made both free throws - and missed a potential tying 3-pointer with three seconds to go.
The 7-2 Dydek had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and Sales swept 11 boards for the Sun, who won despite 28 percent (20-of-78) shooting, 13 missed free throws (25-of-38) and a 48-46 deficit on the glass.
Beard bounced back from a poor performance in Game 1 to collect 21 points and nine rebounds and Nikki Teasley scored 16 points for the Mystics, who shot 32 percent (23-of-71) and committed 18 turnovers.