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Sun barely escape getting burned by Beard, Mystics

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut had its worst shooting game
of the year, watched it's All-Star MVP limp off the court with less
than a minute left and almost blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead.

However, all of that wasn't enough to keep the Sun from
advancing to their fourth straight Eastern Conference finals on
Sunday.

After a 3-point attempt by Washington's Alana Beard's fell short
with 3 seconds left, the Sun were able to run out the clock and
beat the Washington Mystics 68-65.

"I've never seen so many easy missed shots," said
Connecticut's Nykesha Sales, who was 1-of-10 from the field.
"There was an invisible lid on that basket really, but a win is a
win and we'll take it."

Katie Douglas led the Sun with 16 points, but left the game
after injuring her right foot with 55 seconds left. She had just
stolen the ball, and felt something give while missing a fast-break
layup.

"I just felt a sharp pain," she said. "I don't even remember
how I got to the bench. But I definitely remember telling the
trainer. I said, 'stretch my Achilles,' something back there."

Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 12 points and 14 rebounds for
Connecticut, and Lindsay Whalen scored 15 points.

The Sun were leading 63-53 with 2:23 left before Washington went
on a 12-3 run, capped when Beard stole an inbounds pass and hit a
layup with 10 seconds left.

But Whalen hit two free throws on the other end, and Beard
missed her 3.

"We don't usually shoot 27 percent, but that happens," Whalen
said. "Our goal every game is to come in and play great defense
and generate some turnovers. We really had to dig deep."

Beard led Washington with 21 points and nine rebounds, and Nikki
Teasley added 16 points -- 10 in the first quarter.

Washington shot only 32 percent from the floor and committed 32
fouls. Chasity Melvin fouled out, and Crystal Robinson, Coco Miller
and DeLisha Milton-Jones each finished with five personals.

"We didn't stop," Beard said. "That's the true beauty of it.
We played basketball with tenacity tonight, and I couldn't be any
prouder of my teammates."

Connecticut took a 34-33 lead after a physical first half, which
included a technical foul on Sales and a flagrant on Milton-Jones.

Milton-Jones took Douglas down underneath the Sun basket as Erin
Phillips hit a jumper with 18 seconds left in the first quarter,
then struck a muscle pose as she left the court.

Beard had the game's first basket and didn't score again until
2:50 left in the half, when she hit two jumpers.

Connecticut held Washington to just 10 third-quarter points.

Margo Dydek had 11 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Sun.
Sales grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals.

"We've told our team, 'You're going to have bad offensive
games, but if you can stay consistent at the other end you'll
figure out ways to win games that are ugly,'" said Sun coach Mike
Thibault, who earned WNBA coach of the year honors before the game.

The Sun might be without Douglas in the opener of the conference
finals at Detroit on Thursday.

"I don't want to jump to any conclusions right now," said
Douglas, who was to have X-rays on Monday. "I just want to
celebrate as much as we can tonight, and say a lot of prayers and
see what happens."