81 San Antonio
By Tom Rietmann | August 9, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- When Tamika Catchings got a little chatty with the referees with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, they hit her with a technical foul.
Thereafter, Catchings took her frustration out on the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Catchings scored nine of Indiana's final 16 points as the Fever pulled away in an 81-68 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse. Her leadership and energy inspired a Fever team that let a 20-point lead slip to nine with 2:50 left against San Antonio. As she has many times before, Catchings, who totaled a game-high 21 points, willed Indiana to a victory when it needed it most.
As Fever Coach Lin Dunn warned after the game when somebody mentioned her star forward's fiery fourth-quarter performance: “Don't make Catchings mad.”
The triumph elevated Indiana's record to 16-7 and solidified its lead atop the WNBA Eastern Conference. Two nights earlier, Indiana had lost by 19 at Chicago in a game that left everybody on the team miffed and determined.
Nobody was more miffed that Catchings, who scored just six points against the Sky.
Tuesday, the Fever standout hit 7-of-13 from the field and collected six rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. She played with an unmistakable fierceness from the opening tip. As for the technical foul … well …
“I was just trying to find different ways to kind of get us inspired and get that extra motivation,” Catchings said. “Getting that tech, it's a bad thing overall but a good thing as far as a sparkplug for this team.
“After the tech, it was all of us coming together and just saying, 'Hey, we have to step it up, pick it up and not let the refs get in our heads.' From that point on, it seems like we all picked it up offensively and defensively.”
Fever point guard Erin Phillips hit 6-of-7 shots and totaled 18 points. Katie Douglas added 13 points.
For Phillips, it was her second-best scoring night of the season and her eighth double-digit game. She and backup Shannon Bobbitt have turned into a formidable one-two punch in the wake of a season-ending knee injury to Briann January.
Dunn made a point Tuesday night of lauding Phillips for her scoring and the way she is leading the fast break. The Fever coach pointed to Phillips' ability to hit 3-pointers as well as mid-range shots and also maneuver in the pick-and-roll.
“I think some of the best teams have point guards who score,” Dunn said. “I think if you're going to be a really good team, you have to have scoring from your point position. … (Phillips) is just growing and growing with learning our system.”
Phillips stayed low-key.
“If Bobbitt and I can pick up some points here and there and take some pressure off the primary scorers on our team, that definitely helps,” said the native Australian.
Indiana did its best to put the game away in the second quarter, holding the Stars to 1-of-14 shooting (7.1 percent) and outscoring them 20-5.
“I think our defense really bothered them,” Dunn said. “Nothing came easy.”
San Antonio (12-9) shot 43.4 percent (23-of-53) for the game. Becky Hammon led the Stars with 19 points, followed by Sophia Young with 13. Point guard Tully Bevilaqua, a favorite of Indianapolis fans during her six seasons with the Fever through 2010, had three points.
Indiana outrebounded the visitors 35-28. “When we win the boards, good things happen,” Dunn said.
What Dunn seemed happiest about was the way her team came back from the 88-69 loss at Chicago.
“I think that game really got our attention,” the coach said. “You have a choice (when) you face some adversity. Are you going to get bitter or going to get better? I thought we really bounced back from a tough loss up there.”