UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- The Charlotte Sting had one last shot
at beating Connecticut in the regular season after losing the first
three of the series.
Lindsay Whalen wouldn't let them.
Whalen had a season-high 20 points and made all 12 of her free
throws to lead the Sun to a 76-71 win over Charlotte Thursday
Charlotte tied it three times in the final 3 minutes, but the
Sun's free-throw shooting and timely defense made the difference
down the stretch. Connecticut was 14-of-14 from the line in the
closing minutes and Whalen hit all eight of her free-throw attempts
in that stretch.
"I tried to get myself off the pick-and-roll. It was like
whatever happened I was either going to get fouled or something
good was going to happen," Whalen said. "I don't think I made a
shot in that time but I just kept getting to the line."
Whalen's 12-for-12 effort matches a franchise high and ties her
previous mark set last season against Phoenix.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 12 points, eight rebounds and four
blocked shots for the Sun (13-5). Margo Dydek finished with 13
points and nine rebounds for Connecticut. The Sting (3-14) have
lost nine straight to the Sun.
Tangela Smith had 17 points to lead Charlotte, which has lost
Both teams had trouble taking care of the ball and combined for
"I don't think we played great in some stretches," Sun coach
Mike Thibault said. "I guess you're going to have games like that.
They're kind of ugly. But as long as you win them. Some of them
Whalen had 10 points and four assists in the first half to give
the Sun a 35-31 halftime lead. She had eight of those points in the
final five minutes, including one acrobatic reverse layup between
two defenders with 1:05 remaining.
"It was very disappointing," Smith said. "We don't have too
many wins and this would have been a great win. We can't say we
didn't have the effort."
Connecticut never trailed and built its biggest lead with 6:30
left in the game when Nykesha Sales' scoop layup gave the Sun a
62-55 edge. Smith and Helen Darling brought the Sting back with an
11-4 run to tie it at 66 with 1:51 left. The teams traded baskets
over the next minute and Smith's jumper in the lane tied it again
at 70. It would be the closest the Sting would get.
Dydek put the Sun ahead for good with a pair of free throws with
The Sun's defense squelched any chance for a Sting comeback.
Connecticut's Katie Douglas knocked the ball loose from Darling,
and Sun teammate Megan Mahoney came up with it with under 10
seconds to play.
"I don't know if we were on one cylinder or two cylinders but
we definitely weren't on all cylinders tonight," said Douglas, who
finished with 11 points.
Tammy Sutton-Brown had 13 points, seven rebounds and three
blocked shots for Charlotte. Darling had a season-high eight
assists and scored five of her seven points in the final 3:13.
Sheri Sam added 12 and Kelly Mazzante scored 10 off the bench.
Whalen, who was picked for her first-All-Star game Wednesday,
joins Dydek and Sales in the starting lineup in next week's contest
at Madison Square Garden.