August 07, 2005

Connecticut 74, Indiana 65

Connecticut coach Mike Thibault had a simple message for his team after the Sun committed 14 first-half turnovers.

``I told them don't toss it (the ball) to the other team, toss it to the guys in the blue jerseys,'' Thibault said.

They listened.

Connecticut turned the ball over only three times after the break, shot 16-for-30 from the field and rallied to beat the Fever 74-65 Saturday night in a matchup of the Eastern Conference's top two teams.

Nykesha Sales matched her season-high with 26 points and Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the first-place Sun.

Connecticut (20-6) held the Fever (15-10) scoreless for 4:43 after trailing 29-19 with 3:37 left in the first half.

``The second half we rebounded better, took care of the ball better. Taj and Nykesha came up with huge plays down the stretch,'' Thibault said.

The victory gave the Sun a 4 1/2 -game lead over the Fever.

Tamika Catchings led Indiana with 17 points and 13 rebounds, reaching 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists and 300 steals faster than any player in WNBA history. She had reached each milestone except for rebounds before the game.

The final milestone for the Indiana All-Star came in her 125th game. The quickest to reach all four milestones previously was Sheryl Swoopes, who accomplished the feat in her 191st game.

Catchings now has 2,207 points, 1,002 rebounds, 454 assists and 307 steals.

Catchings, who went into the game leading the league with 69 steals, had four before the break as the Fever tied a team record for steals in a half with 13.

Connecticut scored the final eight points of the first half to trail 29-27 before the break.

Lindsay Whalen had four points during the closing run on two free throws and a disputed layup.

Whalen was credited the basket as she and Catchings had contact under the basket, and the Indiana star was called for blocking with 4.1 seconds left. Catchings drew a technical for protesting the call, but Katie Douglas missed the free throw. Whalen then completed the three-point play by making her free throw.

``We started to remember the last game we played here and realized the same thing was happening,'' Sales said. ``We got ourselves under control, started making crisper passes. ... We were more deliberate and purposeful.''

Indiana coach Brian Winters said his team had no answer for Sales, who was 10-of-16 from the field. ``I am disgusted and so are all the players.''

``With Sales we lost sight of her,'' Catchings said. ``They run her off effective screens, and we were so worried about helping in the post, we lost sight of her and gave her some open looks.''

Connecticut scored the first five points of the second half and the score was tied twice before McWilliams-Franklin grabbed an offensive rebound and put the Sun ahead to stay with a layup.

After the Sun scored eight consecutive points, Indiana cut the margin to 52-51 with 7:40 remaining. Sales then hit a 3-pointer and a 19-foot jumper and Indiana never drew closer than three again.

A season-high 9,370 fans attended the game at Conseco Fieldhouse.

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