INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever are heading back to Connecticut thanks to Shavonte Zellous’ last-second basket.
Zellous’ jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining lifted the Fever over the Connecticut Sun 78-76 in Game 2 of the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night.
Now the Fever will play the decisive game in Connecticut on Thursday with a trip to the WNBA finals on the line. Indiana is winless in three playoff games in Connecticut, including a 76-64 loss in Game 1.
“I’m expecting a war when we go up there,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. “We are very confident we can go in there and win.”
Katie Douglas scored 24 points, including seven of the Fever’s last 11, and Tamika Catchings added 21.
Kara Lawson led the Sun with 18 points, Asjha Jones added 17 points and 10 rebounds and reigning league MVP Tina Charles had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Sun.
“Obviously we thought we gave ourselves a chance to win down the stretch,” Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. “Give Zellous credit, she made a good shot.”
The Sun’s Allison Hightower tied the game on a baseline runner with 12.5 seconds left. She was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw.
Tamika Catchings rebounded the miss and threw an outlet pass to Briann January who missed a layup. Zellous had started celebrating when January attempted the layup but gained possession of the loose ball in front of the Connecticut bench before driving and making the 13-foot jumper.
“I was in the act of cheering when Briann had the layup so I thought it was going in,” said Zellous, who finished with four points. “Bri didn’t give up on that play even though she missed the layup. (Erlana) Larkins came in, tipped it and Bri scrambled gave it to me and I went down and knocked down the shot.”
Connecticut led 57-56 entering the final quarter but Indiana used a 7-0 run to go up 63-57 with 7:49 remaining.
The Sun answered back as Renee Montgomery hit back-to-back threes to tie the score at 63.
Charles, who had 11 points at halftime, scored her first bucket of the second half to give Connecticut a 70-65 lead with 4:42 remaining.
Trailing by one, Douglas stole the ball from Jones with a 1:07 remaining. She took it coast-to-coast and was fouled to give Indiana the lead 74-72 on a three-point play with 56.5 seconds remaining.
Charles snatched an offensive rebound, was fouled by Catchings and the second-year-pro made both free throws to tie the game at 74.
The Fever responded on a Catchings layup with 21.3 seconds left to set up Hightower’s game-tying runner.
The Sun scored the first 11 points of the game and led 24-20 through the first quarter after shooting 56 percent from field.
Douglas gave Indiana their first lead of the game at 40-39 with 1:48 remaining in the half.
The 11-year-pro then scored two of 15 first half points to give the Fever a 46-43 halftime advantage on a driving layup as time expired.
Connecticut had three players score 11 points or more in the first half with Lawson and Charles both contributing 11 and Jones adding 12 on 5-for-5 shooting.
Indiana is now 3-0 in elimination games in the 2012 postseason and 8-1 all-time at home in elimination games.