UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Indiana lost a star early in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Fever never lost its confidence.
Tamika Catchings scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Fever into the WNBA Finals for the second time in four seasons with an 87-71 win over the Connecticut Sun on Thursday.
The Fever, which has won four games while facing elimination during the playoffs, routed the Sun even after leading scorer Katie Douglas went down with an ankle injury just 5 minutes into the game.
“When Katie went down, you could just see the fire in everybody’s eyes,” coach Lin Dunn said. “We just took it to a whole ’nother level. We could have folded up our little tent and gone home when one of our (stars) got hurt. But we didn’t.”
Douglas had been the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs and had 51 points in the first two games of this series.
The bench picked up the slack Thursday by scoring 32 points, led by Erin Philips, who had 15. The Fever hit 10 3-pointers, including its first seven attempts.
“Everyone just stepped up,” Phillips said. “We showed a lot of poise and were aggressive. It was just an awesome team game.”
League MVP Tina Charles led the Sun with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Kara Lawson added 16 points.
Indiana will play in Game 1 of the best-of-five Finals on Sunday at defending champion Minnesota, which swept Los Angeles in the Western Conference.
The Fever was up 9-4 when Douglas missed a driving, off-balance jumper in the lane, came down on the foot of the Sun’s Tan White and rolled her left ankle. She was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
There was no immediate update after the game.
Indiana led 18-10 after the first quarter, and used a 12-0 run to stretch that to 32-16.