UNCASVILLE ——It was inevitable Thursday that the Indiana Fever or Connecticut Sun would leave Mohegan Sun Arena feeling like their soul was ripped out.
It's the nature of sport. Only one team can win the final game of the series. Only one team can win the final game of the year.
What the Fever never expected was that feeling could come after their biggest win of the year.
This year, Indiana is the team with the shot from the Eastern Conference. But it paid a big price.
Playing for the last 35 minutes without Katie Douglas, the star of the first two games, the Fever pulled together, shot with incredible accuracy (55.7) and blasted the Sun, 87-71.
"There really isn't a lot to say when you get your butts beat like that," Sun coach Mike Thibault said.
Tamika Catchings, the 2011 MVP, led the Fever with 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Former Sun guard Erin Phillips added 15.
Tina Charles, the 2012 MVP, led the Sun with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
And now the Fever move on to Minnesota for Game 1 of the best-of-five WNBA Finals on Sunday. They haven't been to the finals since 2009 when they lost to Phoenix and are still looking for their first title.
But whether they will have Douglas is unknown.
"We don't know yet," Catchings said. "But we are going to go there and get ready to play."
Douglas, a Fever pillar and top scorer in the series, severely injured her left ankle with 5:05 to play in the first quarter and was taken to the hospital for X-rays.
"We were going to [win the game] for her," Phillips said.
Douglas, named to the Sun's All-Decade team last month, had scored 81 points in the first two games. She was hurt doing what she does best, driving to the basket with her left hand when she fell on Tan White's foot.
Douglas badly rolled the ankle and immediately cried out in anguish, her fists smashing into the floor. The Fever were leading, 12-4.
Dunn inserted Shavonte Zellous (11 points), whose basket beat the Sun in Game 2, and turned to Jeanette Pohlen, the former Stanford star, who hadn't scored since Sept. 28.
And Indiana took flight. Pohlen's three (14 points) with 2:57 to play in the half gave it a 41-20 lead after a 21-6 run.
"We couldn't hit the rim and they were making everything," Thibault said. "It was a bad start."
It also made the Fever 7 of 7 from three. They were 17 of 29 from the floor in the first half. Meanwhile, the Sun missed their first 10 threes in the first half, during which they shot 11 of 34. And they trailed, 43-24.