Connecticut 77, Detroit 68
Douglas Returns From Injury, Sun Force Decisive Game 3
UNCASVILLE, Conn., Aug. 26 (Ticker) -- Katie Douglas provided the inspiration to help the Connecticut Sun continue their season.
With their leading scorer making an emotional return, the Sun forced a decisive third game in the Eastern Conference finals with a 77-68 victory over the Detroit Shock.
"It was do or die. I thought we played a pretty terrific game for the most part, especially on the defensive end," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "I know Nolan had a good game, but I thought we did a good job on a lot of their other people. Now it's even. We'll go play tomorrow night and find out who can move on."
After playing poorly in a 70-59 loss in Game 1, the Sun received a boost before taking the court with the return of Douglas - the WNBA All-Star Game MVP - who was expected to miss the rest of the playoffs with a hairline fracture in her right foot that she suffered in the clinching game against Washington in the conference semifinals.
"I don't know if (that was the case), necessarily," Douglas said about her return being a boost. "First and foremost, I didn't want to be a distraction to them. You know, my teammates are unbelievably caring and helpful and everything else that you can expect from teammates. Each and every one of them has supported me and I just didn't want to distract them, but I wanted to give them something if I could."
"I think it helped Katie a lot more to be part of it," McWilliams-Franklin said. "I know she really wanted to be out there. It was quite a blow when she went down. Both sides, it helps us and it helps her."
Douglas, who was not close to 100 percent, was in the starting lineup. The fifth-year guard took just three shots and scored six points to go along with four rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.
Douglas' biggest impact came in an 17-5 surge to start the third quarter that helped the Sun open some breathing room. She hit a 3-pointer and jumper in the burst that Dydek capped with a short jumper for a 56-43 advantage at the 5:07 mark.
The Shock rallied back to close to 60-55 behind Deanna Nolan, who scored 11 of her 27 points in the third quarter.
However, the Sun again started a quarter strong, using an 8-2 surge to open the fourth to rebuild the lead to double digits. Erin Phillips' basket provided a 68-57 advantage with 5:37 remaining.
Nolan's 3-pointer with 53 seconds left did get the Shock within 70-67. But Lindsay Whalen made a beautiful pass in traffic to McWilliams-Franklin, who converted a layup 22 seconds later.
Nykesha Sales added 15 points for the Sun, who shot 42 percent (25-of-59) en route to their first win in five tries against the Shock this season.
Cheryl Ford had 15 points and eight rebounds for Detroit, which shot 40 percent (27-of-67) and held a 34-29 rebounding advantage.
"No doubt it's disappointing that we didn't close the series out," Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said. "It's something we wanted to do and talked about. We talked about it's the hardest game we're going to play, and we didn't get the job done.
"So we have to ask ourselves why. I don't think we played nearly as hard as we had to. Our focus wasn't there. We made some mistakes. We made some coaching blunders over the course of the game. The bottom line was our team as a whole did not play hard enough and as well as we have to win a close out game on the road."