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Connecticut handles overtime, evens series

The Sun's Nykesha Sales drives to the hoop in the first half. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
The Sun's Nykesha Sales drives to the hoop in the first half. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Taj McWilliams-Franklin can’t remember the last time she jumped so high.

And it seemed just about every time the Connecticut forward went up, she came down with a rebound.

McWilliams-Franklin grabbed five boards in overtime and hit the go-ahead jumper, helping the Sun beat the Sacramento Monarchs 77-70 Thursday night to tie the WNBA Finals at 1-1. She finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds.

“Our post coach always says, ‘Get to every rebound.’ I just wanted to make sure I got my hand on a few,” she said. “I missed a couple of good shots there in regulation, so I wanted to so something else to help them.”

McWilliams-Franklin’s wide-open jumper with 4:18 left in the extra period was all the Sun needed as they held Sacramento scoreless in overtime.

Game 3 in the best-of-5 series is Sunday in Sacramento.

Nykesha Sales scored 19 points and Katie Douglas 16 for the Sun, who were playing without point guard Lindsay Whalen, out with an ankle injury.

“I’m more impressed with some of the defensive plays we made, steals, tips in the lane, rebounds in traffic,” coach Mike Thibault said. “I thought they all stepped up and did that.”

Connecticut’s Brooke Wyckoff hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 70.

McWilliams-Franklin dueled the entire game against Yolanda Griffith in a matchup of two of the oldest players on the floor. Her post defense in the extra period frustrated Griffith and the Monarchs, who are known for their harassing defense.

But it was Connecticut making all the right moves when it counted.

McWilliams-Franklin pulled down a defensive rebound with 1:55 left in overtime and fired a pass nearly fullcourt, hitting Sales in stride for a breakaway layup. Sales then stole a pass and found Douglas in transition for another layup to extend the lead.

“From beginning to end, they had a lot of energy,” Griffith said. “They were more hungry than we were.”

Griffith, who starred in Wednesday’s series opener, and Nicole Powell scored 16 points apiece for Sacramento. DeMya Walker added 14 points.

Wyckoff, who missed the entire 2004 season with a knee injury, hit 3 of 4 from behind the arc, none bigger than her shot to send the game to overtime. McWilliams-Franklin made the assist.

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