Indiana (5-3) at Connecticut (8-2)

By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer Monday, Jun 18, 2012 Kickoff: 7:00 pm EDT Tue Jun 19, 2012

Tina Charles is a big reason the Connecticut Sun are atop the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Indiana Fever could use more consistency from their star player.

Charles and the Sun look to win their third straight game Tuesday night when they host Tamika Catchings and the Fever in the first game of a home-and-home series.

Charles is coming off her best performance of the season, scoring 23 points to go with a season-high 22 rebounds in Connecticut’s 75-73 win over Atlanta on Sunday. She hit a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds left to give the Sun (8-2) their first lead of the game.

Charles, who is third in the WNBA in scoring (20.8 points per game) and second in rebounding (12.1 rebounds per game) pulled down 13 of her boards in the second half en route to her seventh double-double of the season.

“I was going after the ball,” she said. “We needed to get boards in order to get transitions. That was one big thing for us, so I was just doing what I had to do down there.”

Connecticut has outrebounded its last two opponents by a combined 22.

The Sun, who are 7-0 against conference opponents, are looking to match their longest winning streak of the season Tuesday. However, they will have to do a better job defending Catchings than they did earlier this month.

Charles had 12 points and 14 rebounds in Connecticut’s 89-81 win over Indiana (5-3) on June 8, overcoming a season-high 31 points by Catchings.

Connecticut received a big break in that game when the reigning WNBA MVP missed part of the third quarter after accidentally being elbowed in the face by a teammate. The Sun went on an 8-0 run during her absence.

However, Catchings, who shot 10 of 15 and hit six 3-pointers in that loss, has averaged 13.5 points on 26.9-percent shooting in the two games since facing Connecticut.

Despite Catchings’ shooting woes last week, Indiana snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday with an 84-70 win over Chicago. Jessica Davenport hit all nine of her shots from the floor and finished with 19 points.

“I just thought it was a great kind of gut-check win for us,” coach Lin Dunn said. “We got great help from the bench, especially Davenport. We moved the ball. We shared the ball. We defended at a high level.”

Catchings finished with 12 points, shooting 3 of 12, although she went 6 of 8 at the foul line to surpass Lisa Leslie atop the WNBA’s career free throws made list with 1,478.

Indiana and Connecticut will meet again on Thursday in Indianapolis, the Fever’s only home game among their next five. The Sun won two of three versus Indiana at home last season.

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