61 vs Indiana
by Tom Rietmann | May 23, 2010
For the Indiana Fever's Shay Murphy, it was a memorable weekend, easily her most productive and satisfying of three seasons in the WNBA.
Murphy capped it off Sunday night by cutting a swath through the Chicago Sky for team-leading totals of 16 points and nine rebounds in Indiana's 69-61 triumph at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The victory evened the Fever's record at 2-2. And it came only 24 hours after the Fever topped the Sky in overtime in Chicago (92-86), thanks in large part to Murphy's significant contributions there.
“I think the thing we know for sure now is that Shay wants to be our sixth man,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said Sunday night. “It's her energy and rebounding. It's a tremendous lift to have a wing player rebound like she does.”
Saturday night in Chicago, Murphy scored a career-high 20 points and added 10 rebounds for her first double-double with the Fever. She also had a team and career-high six assists.
Sunday night, she started the second half when Dunn opted for a smaller, quicker lineup and provided instant energy. After the Fever finished the first half with just one point in the final 5:26, Murphy led the team on a 14-2 run to open the third quarter. Murphy provided three fast-break buckets that brought a crowd of 7,665 to its feet.
“My goal,” Murphy said, “is just to be a positive spark off the bench, no matter if I play five minutes or 20 minutes.”
“She has come in and played over and beyond expectations,” said Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who had 13 points and five rebounds.
Murphy signed as a free agent with the Fever after the start of the 2009 season. The Fever saw potential in Murphy, a former USC star who had been released by the Washington Mystics, and decided to re-sign her prior to the 2010 training camp.
Murphy bonded immediately with her Indiana teammates. And she embraced the opportunity to play with last season's Eastern Conference champions.
“Anytime you do well in the WNBA, against the top players, I'm thrilled,” said the 5-11 guard, who finished just one rebound short Sunday night of becoming only the fourth player in franchise history with consecutive double-doubles. “I like the challenge. I measure myself against people like Tamika Catchings and whoever. I just want to continue to work hard and maybe I'll be one of those names, too, one day.”
The Fever opened an 11-point lead at 61-50 in the fourth quarter, but the Sky sliced the edge to four. Then the Fever, bolstered by four free throws from Briann January and a three-point play by Katie Douglas, eased to the victory.
Rookie Jené Morris, the Fever's top draft pick, contributed 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor after not getting into the game at Chicago. She took her cue from Murphy.
“The way Shay comes off the bench and helps the team, I definitely have been trying to follow her example,” Morris said.
Tammy Sutton-Brown scored just one point for Indiana, but her defense on Chicago's Sylvia Fowles played a major role in the win. Fowles, who came in with a 19.5 scoring average, was held to four field goal attempts. She made two and added six points from the foul line.
“When you can have an Olympian like Fowles only get four shots, that's huge,” Dunn said. That's directly attributable to (Sutton-Brown's) desire not to let Sylvia catch the ball.”
-- The Fever, traveling by bus, returned to Indianapolis at 3:30 a.m. Sunday following their game in Chicago. “I thought that second half for both teams was kind of a gut-check time. Everybody was mentally and physically tired,” Dunn said.
-- The Fever's victory gave them the first sweep of back-to-back games since winning on consecutive nights last June against the New York Liberty.
-- Katie Douglas, with four assists and zero turnovers on Sunday night, ranks among league leaders with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 19-6.