August 28, 2007

Indiana 93, Connecticut 88, OT

INDIANAPOLIS - With her team comfortably ahead, Connecticut's Katie Douglas started talking trash to a group of Indiana Fever supporters.

"Y'all quiet over here today," she yelled in the midst of about 6,000 fans, who had little to cheer about for the first three quarters of Monday's Eastern Conference playoff game.

The fans weren't quiet for long. The Fever rallied to force overtime, then completed the biggest comeback in WNBA playoff history by defeating the Sun 93-88 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Fever overcame a 39-17 second-quarter deficit to win the first-round series 2-1. The previous biggest deficit overcome was 21 points, by Minnesota in a 74-72 win on Aug. 28, 2003, against Los Angeles.

Tamika Catchings, who led the Fever with 30 points and 13 rebounds, said her team never lost confidence.

"We did a great job as far as chipping, chipping, chipping," she said. "That's one thing coach talked about. We're not going to get 22 points in one possession."

Tamika Whitmore scored 24 points and Anna DeForge added 18 for the Fever.

Douglas led Connecticut with 27 points and Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones both added 21.

The Sun won their first five games against the Fever this season, but lost the two that mattered most. The final score was the same as their first playoff game at Connecticut, which lasted three overtimes.

Indiana outscored Connecticut 45-33 in the fourth quarter and overtime on Monday.

"They just got up and pressured us a little bit more," Douglas said. "They just got stops. We just kind of went cold. You can't expect to be on fire all night.

"When they got stops, they were doing what we were doing to them the first three quarters. They were running it down our throats in transition, getting easy baskets and getting confidence."

In overtime, Catchings hit a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left to give the Fever an 89-86 lead. Douglas missed a 3-pointer, and Indiana rebounded with 15.1 seconds left.

Whitmore made the first of two free throws with 14.4 seconds left to bump Indiana's lead to 90-86.

Nykesha Sales scored on a layup with 5 seconds left to cut the Fever's lead to 90-88.

Catchings was fouled on a dead ball and made the one shot. By rule, the Fever were given possession, and Catchings was fouled again. She made both free throws with four seconds left to seal the win for Indiana.

Connecticut led 64-48 in the fourth quarter when the Fever went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by five points from Sheri Sam, to cut their deficit to 64-59 with 6:40 to go.

Indiana chopped the lead to 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Whitmore with 3:05 left, then took the lead on a 3-point play by Whitmore with 2:30 to go.

Indiana took a 73-72 lead on two free throws by Catchings with 45.5 seconds left. Connecticut took possession, but Indiana tipped the ball out of bounds with 8 seconds left on the shot clock. Whalen shot an airball on a fadeaway jumper with the shot clock winding down, and Indiana rebounded with 21.5 seconds to go.

Catchings made two free throws with 20.3 seconds left to give Indiana a 75-72 lead.

Douglas missed a 3-pointer, but Connecticut got the loose ball, and Sales made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 75.

Douglas fouled Catchings as she brought the ball upcourt, and Catchings made two free throws with 5.8 seconds left to give the Fever a 77-75 lead.

Connecticut quickly moved the ball downcourt, and Douglas redeemed herself with a layup with 1.5 seconds left that forced overtime.

"I was thinking if I could dunk it, I'd love to," Douglas said. "I was so frustrated with myself for making a silly foul."

Catchings averaged 19.7 points and 15.3 rebounds in the series, her first three games back after missing 13 games with an injured left foot. DeForge averaged 25 points per game in the series after averaging 8.7 points in the regular season.

Douglas was upset that Connecticut continued its pattern of losing big leads, but she said the Fever had a lot to do with it on Monday.

"Give credit to Indiana," she said. "They didn't hang their heads."

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