Sun, Fever series is exhausting yet riveting

Katie Douglas, a few minutes removed from an exhausting overtime loss, still managed a smirk at the sight of an old friend Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

"Living the dream in the WNBA," Douglas, all-star guard for the Indiana Fever, said. "We get to fly commercial at 7 a.m. (Wednesday)."

All for the privilege of facing the Connecticut Sun again tonight. The Fever and Sun, who needed overtime two nights ago, play for the third time this month tonight at the building formerly known as Conseco (now Bankers Life) Fieldhouse.

Connecticut (9-2) leads the Eastern Conference, thanks in part to a pair of close victories against a smart, veteran team.

"They're one of the hardest teams to close a game on," Sun guard Renee Montgomery said. "They're so locked in on your plays and each individual person. We mirror each other a lot. It's so hard night in, night out to beat Indiana. They make you work for every single basket."

The Sun blew a 10-point lead in the third period and a five-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation. But they held Indiana scoreless over the final 2:34 of overtime. Sun coach Mike Thibault echoed Montgomery's sentiments about the difficulty of playing the Fever.

"They clutch and grab and see how many they can get away with," Thibault said. "They are physical and we turned it over some because of their physicality.

"They have one of the great, great players in (Tamika) Catchings, but she is also one of the most physical players in our league. She learned early on that if you play a certain way all the time, you are allowed to play that way. That's the way it is throughout pro basketball, players establish reputations."

Thibault sounded as though he believes Sun forward Asjha Jones, who will be part of the U.S. Olympic team, should have forged a pretty solid reputation by now, too. Jones nearly fouled out Tuesday, drawing the assignment of guarding a quicker Catchings most of the game.

"Asjha, who has played almost as long as Catchings, gets foul calls (called on her) that aren't at the other end," Thibault said. "That's part of pro basketball."

The Sun get eight days off after the game and play next June 29 at Washington. They return home July 1 to play Sue Bird and Seattle at 5 p.m.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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