for this game

Gruda leads Sun past Fever 77-68

Jul 14, 2010 - 9:21 PM INDIANAPOLIS(AP) -- The Connecticut Sun are intent on staying in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Sandrine Gruda scored 21 points to lead the Sun to a 77-68 victory over Indiana on Wednesday, snapping their three-game losing skid and ending the Fever's seven-game home winning streak.

Connecticut (11-8) moved a half-game behind Indiana (11-7) for third place in the conference. Washington (12-5) is in first place, percentage points ahead of Atlanta (14-6).

"The whole Eastern Conference is a dog fight," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We needed it badly, and it was a great win for us."

Connecticut is in position to gain more ground on the conference leaders. The Sun play their next five games at home, where they are 7-1. They host Atlanta twice and Washington once during the homestand.

"At least now we get to go home," Thibault said. "We've been good at home."

The Fever were looking to continue their own strong play at home on Wednesday.

Tamika Catchings had 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals, and Katie Douglas added 13 points for Indiana. Catchings grabbed her 2,000th rebound in the second quarter to become the 10th player in WNBA history to reach that milestone.

"We just have to get better," Catchings said. "We continue to say, 'Oh, we have to get better, we have to get better' and making excuses, but when it comes down to it, people aren't ready to play.

"We have to win. Everybody has to gut it out and we have to figure out how we're going to win. For me, it's frustrating. It's all of us. It's not just one player. As a team, we have to do better."

After falling behind 56-52 to begin the fourth quarter, the Sun went on an 11-0 run to take control with 5 minutes left. Indiana, which began the final period 0 for 10 from the field, got a pair of free throws from Briann January with 3:54 left to halt Connecticut's rally.

The Fever pulled to 68-66 on a 3-pointer by Douglas with 2 minutes remaining, but the Sun answered with Tina Charles' jumper and Gruda's two free throws to regain the momentum.

"We wanted to win this game because we know we are a good, talented team," Gruda said. "It was very, very important for us to win this game. We need to prove to ourselves that we could win."

There were six lead changes and three ties in a sloppy first half, and neither team led by double digits. Connecticut shot 39 percent from the field and had 10 turnovers.

Indiana, which led by nine points, took a 38-34 advantage at the break despite shooting 37 percent and committing seven turnovers.

The Fever extended their lead to six points in the third quarter, but Gruda's two free throws cut the deficit to 54-52 entering the final period.

"We saw a very good Connecticut team today," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "They were desperate for a win. We did not match their level of intensity. They were a 10 and we were a seven."

The Fever and Sun finish their regular-season series Aug. 15 at Connecticut.

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