Sun Hold Off Fever; Race for No. 2 Seed Tightens

Connecticut 77, Indiana 74

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 15 (AP) -- The Connecticut Sun continued their dominance over the Indiana Fever.

Nykesha Sales scored a career-high 32 points to help the Sun complete a sweep of the season series against the Fever with a 77-74 victory on Wednesday night.

Connecticut (18-14), which moved within one game of Indiana (19-13) for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase, has won eight of its last 10 regular-season games against the Fever, including five straight at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Sun coach Mike Thibault couldn't pinpoint an exact reason for his team's success.

"If I had a great answer, I'd bottle it up and use it somewhere else, too,'' he said. "It just seems to work out that way.''

The Sun and Fever will meet in the first round of the playoffs, although home-court advantage is still up for grabs with two games left in the regular season. Connecticut owns the tiebreaker over Indiana.

Thibault said the final seeding doesn't mean much unless the playoff series goes to a third and deciding game.

"It helps if you have that game on your home court,'' he said. "The series is such a funky, short format that it's hard to say it has a bigger importance than it does.''

Lindsay Whalen added 17 points for the Sun, who were playing without All-Star Asjha Jones (ankle).

Anna DeForge had a season-high 29 points and Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 19 for the Fever, who dropped to 3-9 since losing All-Star Tamika Catchings to a left foot injury July 20. Catchings' return is listed as day-to-day.

"Every game we get a little better,'' DeForge said. "We just have to stay consistent until Catchings gets back.''

The Sun opened up a close game with a 16-4 run to begin the fourth quarter. Connecticut turned a two-point lead into a 75-61 advantage on Erika DeSouza's layup with five minutes left.

Indiana answered with a 13-0 run, closing within 75-74 following DeForge's second straight 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining.

"You know the game isn't over, whether you're up 20 or three,'' Sales said. "There's always a possibility of a comeback.''

Whalen pushed the lead back to three points on her jumper with 43 seconds remaining, and DeForge's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was partially blocked by Le'coe Willingham.

"We dig a hole that's so deep, fighting back is the hard part,'' Sutton-Brown said.

Sales had 23 points in the first half, including 11 straight during one stretch, to help Connecticut open a 48-38 lead at the break.

"It was one of those nights where I had the opportunity to do some things,'' Sales said.

The Fever fought back in the third quarter, taking a 57-56 edge after Sheri Sam's free throw late in the period.