UNCASVILLE, Conn. -
Tina Charles scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half to lead the Connecticut Sun to a 76-64 win over the Indiana Fever on Friday night in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals.
The WNBA's MVP added 15 rebounds and blocked four shots for Connecticut, which used a 14-2 second-half run to open up what had been a tie game at halftime.
Kara Lawson had 16 points and Tan White added 13 for the Sun, who swept New York in the opening round and have now won eight of their last nine games.
Katie Douglas, who spent five years with the Sun and her first seven years in the WNBA with the franchise that moved from Orlando to Connecticut, had 27 points to lead the Fever.
Charles had just four first-half points but came alive in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds as the Sun broke open a 30-30 game.
She brought the crowd into the contest with an offensive rebound, putback and free throw that highlighted the Sun's big run. Connecticut led 54-43 after three quarters and by as many as 16 in the fourth.
Catchings had a blocked shot, a rebound, an assist and a 3-pointer in the game's opening minute to set the tone for Indiana. But she missed her next 11 shots and finished with just seven points and nine rebounds.
The Sun missed their first four shots and hit just two of their first ten.
Douglas, who hit 11 of 19 shots, had 10 first-quarter points and the Fever closed the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 22-14 lead.
Charles began to assert herself on defense in the second. She had all four of her blocked shots as the Sun limited the Fever to just eight points, and held Douglas scoreless.
The Sun won the season series 3-1 but only one of those games took place after the Olympic break -- and Connecticut needed overtime to win that one.
Asjha Jones had 11 points for the Sun, and defended Catchings for much of the game. The Olympian had missed 14 games in the second half of the season with a strained left Achilles' tendon before returning in the final week. She averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds in the first round.
Erlana Larkins, who didn't break the starting lineup until two games before the playoffs, had nine points and eight rebounds after averaging just over 14 points and just under 11 rebounds against Atlanta in the first round.
The Fever, who beat Atlanta in three games in the opening round, is in their third conference final in four years. Indiana had won four of five coming in after a three-game slide that knocked them out of contention for the East's top overall seed.
The series moves to Indiana on Monday with the third game, if necessary, back in Connecticut on Oct. 11.