Published October 06. 2012 4:00AM
Mohegan - There were times in the fourth period Friday night Tan White found herself yawningly open, a product of the Indiana Fever's defensive strategy: double-teaming Olympians Tina Charles and Asjha Jones meant someone else was open.
What made the story juicier, however, is that White, recently voted to the Connecticut Sun's all-decade team, wouldn't be here had Indiana not cut her in 2009, after four seasons.
"For some reason," teammate Kara Lawson said, "Tan always plays well against Indiana. We tease her during shootaround. 'It's the Indiana game.'"
And this was the biggest Indiana game to date. White scored eight of her 13 points in the fourth period, including a pair of killer threes, helping the Sun earn a 76-64 win over Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals before 7,599 delighted fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Sun can win the series Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
"It does make it a little sweeter," White said in response to a question about playing her old team. "But I'm more focused on what we're doing as a team. I'm proud way we responded. I know I'm not the first option. But if their game plan is to leave me open, I'll take it."
White was a co-star on a night when Charles scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the third period and the combination of Charles and Jones limited Tamika Catchings to 2-for-14 shooting from the field and a season-low seven points.
Only Katie Douglas' unconscious shooting, especially in the fourth period, kept the Fever close. Douglas scored a game-high 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting, 5-for-10 from 3-point range.
Even with the 2-for-14 shooting, Catchings wasn't all that far away from a triple-double with seven points, nine rebounds and five assists.
"I really didn't do anything in particular," Jones said of her defense on Catchings. "I just stayed between her and the basketball."
Charles, who had four points at halftime, also had 15 rebounds and four blocks.
The Sun used a late run at the end of the third period to push the lead to 52-43 and scored the first seven points of the fourth. They led 61-45 before Douglas scored 10 points in the next 2 minutes, 30 seconds, to get Indiana within 10.
Still, though, the Sun's lead never got below 10, thanks in part to White.
"Those were big," Lawson said. "There are certain players that are going to be open. Tan took that as a challenge to attack."
Lawson had 16 points and Jones had 11 for the Sun, who overcame an early, eight-point deficit. The Sun missed 15 of their first 22 shots and fell behind 27-19. But they used a late 11-2 run to eventually tie the game at halftime. Connecticut made 19 of 20 free throws.
The Fever shot 3-for-19 in the second period.
Indiana shot 38 percent for the game.
"This win does nothing to faze them. They might be disappointed with a missed opportunity, but this will do nothing to hurt their confidence or belief," Lawson said.
"We haven't really done anything but win the first game. A close-out game against a team like that is the hardest one to win."