Final

Sun 59

(26-8, 12-5 away)

Shock 70

(23-11, 14-3 home)

    Coverage: NBATV

    7:30 PM ET, August 24, 2006

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    CONN 25 7 17 1059
    TUL 21 15 12 2270

    Top Performers

    Connecticut: T. McWilliams-Franklin 12 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

    Tulsa: D. Nolan 21 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Stl

    Ford's 23 boards fuel Shock to Game 1 victory vs. Sun

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Bill Laimbeer is fond of referring to Cheryl Ford as a "beast."

    Even Laimbeer was surprised at the performance of his All-Star power forward on Thursday.

    Ford pulled down a postseason-record 23 rebounds and scored 11 points as the Detroit Shock beat the Connecticut Sun 70-59 in Game 1 of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals.

    "That's just a Herculean effort," Laimbeer said. "She's been very driven and focused all year, and it has been a joy to watch."

    Ford, who broke the WNBA's single-season rebounding record this year, went past Lisa Leslie's postseason rebounding mark of 18 late in the third quarter, then broke her own overall franchise record of 22 in the fourth. The league record for rebounds in a game is 24 by Chamique Holdsclaw.

    "It just seemed like the ball was falling right into my hands," she said.

    Ford struggled in the opening moments of the game, as 7-foot-2 Margo Dydek grabbed four rebounds in the first 56 seconds, but the much-smaller Ford outrebounded her 23-4 in the final 39 minutes.

    "Bill just told us to box her out earlier," said Ford, the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone. "I was just trying to get to everything I could."

    Connecticut, which was outscored 22-10 in the fourth quarter, needs to win Saturday and Sunday at home to advance to their third straight WNBA Finals. The Sun missed 51 of 73 field-goal attempts.

    "Obviously, we have our work cut out for us," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "I thought our defense was fairly good and our rebounding was actually good for long stretches. We just couldn't make a shot. Our frontcourt shot 25 percent -- if they just hit their layups, we win this game by 10 points."

    Detroit is trying to get back to the championship round for the first time since winning the 2003 title.

    "Tonight, we simply did what we were supposed to do," Laimbeer said. "Now we have to go win one in hostile territory."

    Deanna Nolan led all scorers with 21 points, while Katie Smith added 17 and Plenette Pierson had 11 off the bench. Nolan and Ford are averaging a combined 32.3 points in the playoffs.

    Deanna Nolan

    Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

    Detroit's Deanna Nolan led all scorers with 21 points.

    "Those two were terrific," Thibault said. "They just fed off Ford's rebounding."

    Connecticut, which was missing leading scorer Katie Douglas to a foot injury, got 13 points each from Lindsay Whalen and Erin Phillips. Douglas was in uniform and warmed up before the game, but Thibault said it was just to check her progress, not in hopes of playing in Game 1.

    Nykesha Sales, who went 1-for-17 from the floor in the first-round win over Washington, missed five of her six shots against Detroit.

    "I've never been through anything like this in my life," Sales said. "It's hard, because I don't want to force things, but I also don't want to pass up good shots. Right now, I just have no rhythm."

    The Sun led 49-48 going into the fourth, but had no answer for Detroit's defense. The Sun didn't get a field goal in the first 5:46 of the fourth, missing their first 10 shots as the Shock built a 63-51 edge.

    The Shock are now 4-0 against the Sun this season, including two wins in Connecticut.

    "That doesn't mean anything any more," Ford said. "Those games are in the past. This is the playoffs now."

    Detroit trailed 23-9 late in the first quarter, but finished the period with a 12-2 run to pull within four. Ford had seven points in the run.

    The Shock continued the rally into the second, and went ahead 32-30 on Smith's 3-pointer with 2:14 left in the half.

    Detroit led 36-32 at the intermission, led by Ford's nine points and league-record 16 rebounds. Leslie had 14 rebounds in one half of a postseason game, while several players have had 14 in regular-season games.

    The teams traded the advantage throughout the third period, with Connecticut building a 49-43 lead before the Shock got the final five points of the quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

      Connecticut Tulsa
    Points 59 70
    FG Made-Attempted 22-73 (.000) 26-70 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-16 (.313) 6-11 (.545)
    FT Made-Attempted 10-12 (.000) 12-15 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-36 14-48
    Assists 11 17
    Turnovers 7 11
    Steals 5 7
    Blocks 7 1
    Fast Break Points 3 17
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 16 (0/0)