Mystics 65

(18-16, 5-12 away)

Sun 68

(26-8, 14-3 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    1:30 PM ET, August 20, 2006

    Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

    1 2 3 4 T
    WSH 16 17 10 2265
    CONN 17 17 17 1768

    Top Performers

    Washington: A. Beard 21 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Connecticut: N. Sales 5 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Blk

    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."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Washington Connecticut
    Points 65 68
    FG Made-Attempted 23-71 (.000) 20-72 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-12 (.333) 3-19 (.158)
    FT Made-Attempted 15-22 (.000) 25-38 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-48 20-46
    Assists 10 13
    Turnovers 18 11
    Steals 6 8
    Blocks 1 7
    Fast Break Points 4 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (0/0) 17 (1/0)