UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) - Although the Connecticut Sun had already secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, they were still disappointed with their latest win.
Kara Lawson scored nine of her 23 points in the final 4 minutes to lead the Sun to a 73-67 win over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday night. Tina Charles had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Allison Hightower added 10 points for Connecticut (24-9).
Katie Douglas scored 16 of her 19 points in the first half for the Fever (20-12). Tamika Catchings added 15 points and five rebounds.
The Sun led 44-27 with more than eight minutes left in the third quarter.
However, Indiana - which didn't play Catchings or Douglas in the fourth quarter - got as close as 70-65 with less than 2 minutes left in the game.
``I think we're just a little disappointed,' Lawson said. ``They got it down to a two possession game in the fourth, and we talked about at the start of the fourth about not letting up and putting the game away.
``We won. That's probably about all you can say good about the game.'
The Fever announced before the game that they'll play without starting guards Briann January and Shavonte Zellous the rest of the regular season. Both sustained head injuries in Monday's loss at Minnesota and returned to Indianapolis.
``One of the things we wanted to do was compete,' Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. ``We're not going to come in here and lay down and die, and we're going to give our backups some quality minutes.'
Asjha Jones returned to Connecticut's lineup after missing the last 14 games due to a strained Achillies tendon. She played six minutes off the bench and made both of her shots for four points.
``I just wanted to play,' Jones said. ``No matter how many minutes I was going to play, I wanted to be somewhat of a factor. Just be part of the game and make sure I had positive minutes.'
Hightower started the second half with a driving layup, followed by a putback by Charles. Hightower followed with a jumper as the Sun pulled ahead 44-27 - their largest lead of the game - less than two minutes into the third period..
Indiana pulled to 64-58 with more than 4 minutes left in the game. Lawson was fouled moments later while attempting a 3-pointer. She made all her free throws.
Karima Christmas had a 3-pointer on the other end for Indiana. Lawson answered with a 3 to push Connecticut's lead to 70-61 with less than 3 minutes left in the game.
``I thought (the reserves) did really well,' Catchings said. ``(Goodlett) did a good job our little rookie. She's been battling all year.'
Back-to-back putbacks by rookie Sasha Goodlett cut the Sun's lead to 70-65 with 1:40 left, but Lawson made another 3 with 34.1 seconds to go to seal Connecticut's win.
``We're trying to win a game to have the second-best record in the league (behind the Minnesota Lynx),' Sun coach Mike Thibault said. ``I was just disappointed that I had to put those two (starters Charles and Hightower) back in (with over five minutes left in the game). I didn't want to.'
Douglas recorded a few milestones during the game. She made four 3s to break Indiana's franchise single-season record. She has 80 this season and joined Katie Smith and Diana Taurasi as the only players in WNBA history to make that many 3s in one season. Douglas also had an assist to become the 15th player in league history to record 1,000 for her career.
Connecticut unveiled its All-Decade team prior to the game as part of its season-long celebration of its 10th anniversary. Current players Renee Montgomery, Tan White, Charles, Jones and Lawson were among the 10. Former Sun players Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Nykesha Sales, Lindsay Whalen, the late Margo Dydek and Douglas rounded out the list.
``It means an awful lot,' Douglas said. ``I was here for five years and put in a tremendous amount of work and we had a lot of success. I know we fell short (in the WNBA Finals) two times and for the fans of Connecticut to recognize me and be part of such a quality group of ladies on that team it means a lot and I am honored and humbled.'
The Associated Press News Service
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