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McWilliams-Franklin sets winning tone



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UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Taj McWilliams-Franklin showed Thursday that Yolanda Griffith isn't the only veteran in the WNBA Finals hungry for her first championship.

With injured point guard Lindsay Whalen on the bench in street clothes, McWilliams-Franklin, 34, set the tone from the opening tip of the Connecticut Sun's 77-70 overtime win against the Sacramento Monarchs.

McWilliams-Franklin scored 24 points, including the first nine of the game, and had five of her 16 rebounds in overtime.

"They are great leapers," McWilliams-Franklin said of the Monarchs. "I haven't jumped that high since ... I don't know if I've ever jumped that high."

She jumped high enough for Sun coach Mike Thibault as Connecticut evened the best-of-five series at 1-1. Game 3 is Sunday (4 p.m. ET, ABC) at Sacramento.

"She started out great, then she ... made some big shots when we needed them," he said. "Her defense on Yo (Griffith) was very, very good tonight."

The 35-year-old Griffith, who had 25 points in Game 1, finished with 16 Thursday and shot 7-for-17 from the field.

"From beginning to end, they had a lot of energy," Griffith said. "They were a lot more hungry than we were. Tonight we needed everybody from our starters to our bench players to give us a lift. I struggled on down to the last person off the bench."

Part of what led to Sacramento's struggles, which included going scoreless in the five-minute overtime, was the significant contributions the Sun got from McWilliams-Franklin's two longtime teammates, Nykesha Sales (19 points) and Katie Douglas (16). The three have played together since 2001, when Douglas joined McWilliams-Franklin and Sales when the franchise was in Orlando.

"Your veteran leaders are supposed to lead you to a win, and they did," Thibault said.

With Whalen sidelined with a twisted left ankle, which she injured Wednesday early in the second half of Game 1, and nursing her injured left knee, it was reserve Brooke Wyckoff who hit the three-pointer to send the game into overtime and backup point guards Jen Derevjanik and Jamie Carey who directed Connecticut's offense.

"I'm proud of our two point guards for stepping up," Thibault said.

"Jen and Jamie did a terrific job of pushing the ball of the floor, and they did a great job defensively. We had a lot of people step up and make some shots."

*Game summary, 15C

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