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WNBA FINALS

Sun storming into Seattle

Connecticut eyes clincher tonight

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- The Seattle Storm are happy to get home, but coach Anne Donovan knows that goes only so far. The Storm need to crack Connecticut's tenacious defense and slow down guard Lindsay Whalen.

Seattle dropped the opener of the WNBA Finals Friday before a rowdy, sellout road crowd of nearly 10,000. The Sun harassed league-leading scorer Lauren Jackson, making her work for every one of her 16 points. The Sun had 15 steals and 6 blocks.

"She didn't have single coverage or double coverage, she had two or three people swarming at her," Donovan said. "But other people need to step up. We can't be all about Lauren Jackson."

In the best-of-three format, the Storm are home for Game 2 tonight and, if necessary, Game 3 Tuesday. It's the first appearance in the finals for both teams.

The Sun made the most of their only finals appearance at the Mohegan Sun arena with strong post play from Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Wendy Palmer-Daniel. They combined for 36 points and 14 boards and made life miserable for Jackson down low.

"That was our game plan from the start," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "She had to take a lot of shots to get what she got."

Jackson made 6 of 19 attempts and, when doubled, rarely found the open shooter. She had just one assist and three turnovers, but did come up strong on the offensive boards, grabbing five of Seattle's 20 offensive rebounds. The Storm dominated the offensive glass late in the game to cut a 16-point deficit to 2.

"Both teams will probably say the same thing," Thibault said. "If we don't give up those rebounds they don't have a chance. They're saying, `If we get more of them we can beat them.' The next game is a test of wills to see which part of that game is a factor."

Jackson's 83-year-old grandmother, Irene, died last month. Unable to attend the funeral, she watched the services from a video hookup as her brother, Ross, read a poem she had written. She has dedicated the finals to the memory of her grandmother. After a frustrating night Friday, she pledged to be tougher in Game 2.

Whalen, a rookie guard from Minnesota, has been directing Thibault's up-tempo offense like a veteran. Whalen found open shooters and finished with nine assists, a team playoff record. Among her favorite targets was guard Katie Douglas, who had 18 points, including three of Connecticut's six 3-pointers.

"We knew what she could do," Douglas said. "She took some knocks early on getting used to the pro level, but ever since then she's taken her game to a new level."

Whalen spoiled the homecoming of Storm guard Sue Bird, who led the University of Connecticut to two NCAA titles. Bird finished with six turnovers and had 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting.

"If we can somehow stop her in transition, then maybe they don't get those open threes," Bird said. "But she's obviously got them going."

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