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Saturday, October 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Doris Yon
UNCASVILLE, Conn. The improbable playoff run for the Connecticut Sun continues.
The Sun, a team picked to finish last in the Eastern Conference in the preseason, is just one victory shy of the WNBA title after its 68-64 victory over the Storm last night.
"I'm real happy about the win, obviously," Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. "Winning the first one at home is obviously very important."
But as happy as the Sun is as the best-of-three series moves to Seattle, plenty of concerns rose from the victory. The main one was letting a 16-point lead dwindle to two points in the final minute of the game.
"I thought for about 75 percent of the game, we played really, really well," Thibault said. "But our lapses were awful."
Connecticut looked as if it would easily cruise to the win after forward Asjha Jones converted a layup to give her team a 63-47 lead with 7 minutes, 21 seconds to play. That was the Sun's final field goal.
"It got pretty nerve-racking," said Sun guard Katie Douglas, who scored a game-high 18 points. "We had some letdowns, which can happen in a game of this magnitude. But we were able to get through it, and now it's on to Seattle to get one more."
Connecticut turned the ball over three times and missed two layups in the last seven minutes of the game. The interior defense also gave up nine offensive rebounds to Seattle in the same stretch, which the Storm turned into 12 points.
"I think we lost that aggressiveness in the last couple of minutes," Sun guard Nykesha Sales said. "We led by so much and (were) thinking that the game was over, and then they made that push. We should have known they were going to make that push. ... We shouldn't allow that to happen, but we can't do anything about that now. We just have to go in there and play like we did for that three-quarters of the game."
Free-throw shooting, one of the Sun's strengths in the playoffs, also became an issue. It entered the game making 81.4 percent of its free throws in the playoffs but last night made just 7 of 14.
Jackson, who came in averaging 22.6 points in the playoffs, finished with 16 points. Six of those points came in the last four minutes of the game, as Jackson was limited for most of the game.
"We wanted to give her a little trouble (and) blow by her," said Sun center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who guarded Jackson. "She's so tall and her shot is so high that the only way you can block her is when she brings it down."
Jackson made 6 of 19 shots, her worst shooting performance in the playoffs.
Connecticut extended its playoff-winning streak to five games, but the players say they do not feel invincible.
"You can't have that attitude," Sales said. "Going into each game we need to be confident but not too confident. This series is not over."
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