Sun crushed by Fever

Sean D. Elliot/The Day Tina Charles of the Sun is consoled by fans as she leaves the court after Thursday night's 87-71 loss to the Fever, which ended the Sun's season one game short of the WNBA finals. Please go to www/theday.com to view a photo gallery from the game.

Mohegan — And to think Kate Douglas hardly played.

Douglas, the Indiana Fever's leading scorer, injured her ankle five minutes into the game and didn't play again Thursday night. And it was completely irrelevant. The rest of her teammates did a complete, thorough and shocking tap-dance on the Connecticut Sun in the biggest game of the season.

The Sun were non-competitive, allowing, among other transgressions, Briann January to waltz down the lane untouched at alarming intervals. The Fever made their first seven three-point attempts and advanced to the WNBA finals with an 87-71 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.

It is the third straight knockout game the Sun have lost at home. They lost to Detroit in 2006 in the conference finals and to New York in 2008 in the conference semifinals.

The Fever became the first team in WNBA history to come back from 1-0 deficits in the first two rounds of best-of-three playoffs to make the finals.

Indiana had never won a road game in the Eastern Conference finals until Thursday.

The Sun never made a serious rally in the second half, getting only as close as 16.

"There's really not a lot to say after you get your butts handed to you like that," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "This is one of the most disappointing losses since we've been here."

The absence of Douglas wasn't the best omen for the Sun, given the history this season. Seattle won at Mohegan Sun Arena without Ann Wauters earlier this year, while Chicago won here without Sylvia Fowles.

"When she went down, I didn't want us to ease up," Sun forward Asjha Jones said. "I knew their other players would step up."

Indiana shot 55 percent from the field. Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 22 points. Erin Phillips scored 15 points, Jeanette Pohlen had 14 points off the bench (on 5-for-5 shooting), January scored 12 and Shavonte Zellous had 11.

"Our feeling was when one person went down, everyone else had to step up," Catchings said. "Everybody was into it. Energy, focus. It was one of those surreal moments."

Douglas scored two points. She led Indiana with a combined 51 points in the first two games.

The Sun missed their first 11 three-point attempts overall. The first three-pointer came from Kara Lawson with 1:56 left in the third period.

"We picked a bad time to play our worst game," Lawson said. "We had a great opportunity and we blew it."

Tina Charles led the Sun with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Lawson had 16, Renee Montgomery had 13 and Asjha Jones and Allison Hightower had 10 apiece.

The first half was a disaster. Douglas left with the Fever leading 12-4 with 4:05 left in the half.

Indiana extended the lead to 43-24 by halftime.

The Fever shot 59 percent in the first half and made all seven 3-point attempts.

Connecticut, meanwhile, shot 32 percent and missed all 10 3-point attempts.

"There was a snowball effect," Thibault said.

The Sun trailed 20-16 before the Fever used a 21-4 run, raining threes on the shellshocked Sun.

"This is why I didn't want to go to a Game 3 with them," Jones said. "They're the comeback kids."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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