Nationals

Sun-Fever Preview

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Sun-Fever Preview

The Eastern Conference finals features a matchup of the last two WNBA MVPs, with Tina Charles and the Connecticut Sun winning the series opener.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn likely is banking on Tamika Catchings having a better performance to help back her bold prediction for Game 2.

The visiting Sun look to return to the WNBA finals for the first time in seven years Monday night by sweeping the Fever, who hope to send the series back to Connecticut for a decisive third game.

Charles averaged 18.0 points and a league-high 10.5 rebounds in the regular season while leading Connecticut to the East's top seed and capturing the MVP in only her second season.

She scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and added four blocks to guide the Sun to a 76-64 win over Indiana in Game 1 on Friday. She had 10 points and six rebounds in the third quarter to help break open a game that was tied at 30 at halftime.

Kara Lawson scored 16 points and Tan White added 13 for Connecticut, which has won eight of nine.

``In the second half I just wanted to set the tone, just getting on the (offensive) boards as much as I could to score,'' Charles said.

Catchings, the 2011 MVP, struggled for the Fever, as Asjha Jones held her to seven points and 2-of-14 shooting.

``Defense is always my priority,'' said Jones, who also scored 11 points. ``Guarding her was my main focus, trying to stay between her and the basket.''

Coach Mike Thibault said shutting down Catchings was a main factor in the Sun taking the upper hand in the series.

``We just made her work to catch the ball, and made her uncomfortable when she caught it,'' Thibault said. ``Asjha, I thought, did a terrific job. It was a key matchup.''

Connecticut looks to complete the sweep in order to return to the WNBA finals for the first time since 2005 - the second straight year the Sun lost in the finals. Dunn, though, sees things going a different way in Game 2.

``We're going to take away five of those second-chance points (for the Sun),'' Dunn said. ``We're going to get four or five more of our shots. We're going to get to the free-throw line two or three more times and we're going to win the second game.''

If Catchings again struggles in her bid to extend Indiana's season, Dunn may need Katie Douglas to have another solid game to support that prediction.

Douglas, who spent her first seven seasons with the Connecticut franchise, scored a game-high 27 points while hitting 11 of 19 shots, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

``I like it here in Connecticut,'' Douglas said. ``I'm very comfortable with the rims, the floor, the lighting, you know, everything that a shooter kind of needs.''

Douglas, who scored 24 points Tuesday to help Indiana eliminate Atlanta, hopes to help the Fever force a decisive Game 3 back in Connecticut on Thursday.

The Fever haven't appeared in the WNBA finals since falling to Phoenix in five games in 2009.

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

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USA TODAY Sports

A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.

MORE ALL-STAR GAME NEWS:

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

On Tuesday, the WNBA revealed the list of 22 players selected by fans, WNBA players and head coaches and media for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018. 

Two Washington Mystics will be featured in the July 28 showcase at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Elena Delle Donne is making her fifth All-Star appearance and serving as one of two team captains, while Kristi Toliver earns the honor for her second time, and first since 2013. 

Delle Donne recorded her 3,000th career point Sunday night becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach the milestone with a 23-point performance in a loss to the Atlanta Dream. It was just the 148th game of her career. 

The 28-year-old is averaging 20.6 points, good for fourth in the league. 

Toliver is averaging 14 points and 4.2 assists. The former Maryland Terrapin is also just a week removed from making her debut as part of the Wizards coaching staff during Las Vegas Summer League. 

The Mystics are 13-9 and atop the eastern conference by 0.5 games. The last time the team had two all-stars was in 2015, when Stefanie Dolson and Emma Meesseman played together.

For ticket information about Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018, fans may visit lynx.wnba.com/allstar/.