Another impressive effort from Anna DeForge helped the Indiana Fever finally solve the Connecticut Sun. Now the Fever hope their sudden star can carry them into the next round of the WNBA playoffs.
DeForge and the second-seeded Fever look to advance when they host the Sun in a decisive Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday.
Two nights after losing a memorable series opener 93-88 in triple overtime, Indiana averted a second straight first-round sweep with a 78-59 home victory over Connecticut on Saturday. The win was the Fever's first against the Sun in six tries this season and just their second in eight meetings since last year.
The Fever, swept out of the semifinals by eventual champion Detroit in 2006, posted their first playoff win since taking both games of an opening-round series against New York in 2005.
Indiana also snapped its six-game skid against Connecticut at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Fever, who at 12-5 were tied with Detroit and Phoenix for the WNBA's best regular season home record, last beat the Sun at Conseco on July 13, 2005.
DeForge was a big reason for Saturday's win, scoring a game-high 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds. The sixth-year guard, who averaged just 8.7 points during the regular season, recorded a career high-tying 31 points in Thursday's loss.
"You just have a mentality where you knew you had to step up," DeForge said. "If you're out there and you're aggressive, you're more of a threat. I think everybody else on the team had that same attitude."
DeForge's teammate Tamika Catchings scored 15 points and grabbed 13 boards in her second game back from a torn foot muscle. The five-time All-Star led the Fever with 16.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game despite her 12-game absence, and averaged 11.5 points and 14.0 boards in four meetings with the Sun this year.
Indiana is looking to advance to the second round for the first time since 2005, when it lost 2-0 to Connecticut in the conference finals. The Sun, meanwhile, will be trying to reach the East finals for a fifth straight season.
To do that, Connecticut needs to bounce back offensively after being held to 37.1 percent shooting (23-for-62) and a season low in points Saturday. The Sun also recorded their fewest points in the playoffs since a 79-55 loss to Detroit last Aug. 27.
Katie Douglas - the Sun's leading scorer with 17.0 points in the regular season - had a team-high 11 in the Game 2 defeat. Nykesha Sales, who had a team-best 25 points in Thursday's win, was limited to five.
Connecticut's remaining three starters combined for 18 points and 7-of-20 from the field.
"They doubled all over the place, we threw the ball all over the place - out of bounds, to them," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "I thought the difference was (Indiana's) defensive activity and swarming.
"There's some shots you've got to make to make them pay for the double team, and we didn't make them."