<
>

McWilliams-Franklin leads Sun in overtime

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- Taj McWilliams-Franklin can't remember
the last time she jumped as high.
And it seemed just about every time the Connecticut forward went
up, she came down with a rebound.

Yolanda Griffith Say it loud: Taj McWilliams-Franklin's jumper in OT put the Sun ahead to stay. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

McWilliams-Franklin grabbed five boards in overtime and hit the
go-ahead jumper, helping the Sun beat the Sacramento Monarchs 77-70
Thursday night to tie the WNBA Finals at 1-all. She finished with
24 points and 16 rebounds.
"Our post coach always says, 'Get to every rebound.' I just
wanted to make sure I got my hand on a few," she said. "I missed
a couple of good shots there in regulation, so I wanted to so
something else to help them."
McWilliams-Franklin's wide-open jumper with 4:18 left in the
extra period was all the Sun needed as they held Sacramento
scoreless in overtime.
Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Sunday in Sacramento.
Nykesha Sales finished with 19 points and Katie Douglas added 16
for the Sun, who were playing without point guard Lindsay Whalen,
sidelined by an ankle injury.
"I'm more impressed with some of the defensive plays we made,
steals, tips in the lane, rebounds in traffic," coach Mike
Thibault said. "I thought they all stepped up and did that."
Connecticut's Brooke Wyckoff hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left
in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 70.
McWilliams-Franklin dueled the entire game against Yolanda
Griffith, in a matchup of two of the oldest players on the floor.
Her post defense in the extra period frustrated Griffith and the
Monarchs, who are known for their harassing defense.
But it was Connecticut making all the right moves when it
counted.
McWilliams-Franklin pulled down a defensive rebound with 1:55
left in overtime and fired a pass nearly full-court, hitting Sales
in stride for a breakaway layup. Sales then stole a pass and found
Douglas in transition for another layup to extend the lead.
"From beginning to end, they had a lot of energy," Griffith
said. "They were more hungry than we were. I think we kind of put
it in the back of our heads that we were going back home."
Griffith, who starred in Wednesday's series opener, and Nicole
Powell scored 16 points apiece for Sacramento. DeMya Walker added
14 points.
Wyckoff, who missed the entire 2004 season with a knee injury,
hit 3-of-4 from behind the arc, none bigger than her shot to send
the game to overtime. McWilliams-Franklin made the assist.
"I just watched it all develop like in slow motion," Wyckoff
said. "Just seeing Taj bounce it twice, look, decide not to shoot
then find me, lock eyes and here it comes."
Sun guards Jen Derevjanik and rookie Jamie Carey ran the point
in place of Whalen and combined for eight assists and six points.
Whalen's absence did little to slow the Sun, who matched the
Monarchs' up-tempo play in the first half.
McWilliams-Franklin scored the first nine points for
Connecticut, which led by as many as seven midway through an
opening period marked by scoring runs for both teams.
The Monarchs countered with a 13-3 outburst, largely on
transition baskets. Kara Lawson's pull-up jumper with 9:57 left in
the first half gave the Monarchs their first lead at 22-19, but it
didn't last long.
Katie Douglas hit a jumper to start a 10-0 Connecticut run that
featured a couple of key defensive stops from Margo Dydek.
Griffith rallied the Monarchs with six points and a steal, and
Sacramento led 39-38 at the half.
"I came in here expecting that we could win two," Sacramento
coach John Whisenant said. "I think that's the way our players
think. We've got two at Arco [arena] now, but I don't think home
court makes a lot of difference. With these two teams, they are
very close."