Defense sets tone as Dunn gets record win
|STAR OF THE GAME
Catchings started off fast with eight points and five rebounds in the first quarter. Catchings went on to stuff the stat sheet as she totaled 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals.
In limited minutes (19), Davenport came up big for Indiana off the bench. She totaled 14 points and five rebounds.
“We had great energy tonight. We got lots of rest after our West coast trip. Our defense was very disruptive. It was a tough night for Washington coming off a back to back and a tough loss last night. We spent lots of energy with our press. The crowd was great. It was a good win over a good team.”
On the finish of the game
“I think we revved up our defense. I think that all night consistently we were making it tough for them. They were fighting the shot clock a lot. During that stretch I think that we made them catch it a step or two out further, you don’t realize it sometimes, it makes a big difference when they are catching it out of their comfort zone. We were rotating really well tonight.”
Points in the paint:
Fever 26, Mystics 16
Fever 8, Mystics 6
Fever 10, Mystics 1
Points off turnovers:
Fever 25, Mystics 6
Fever 52, Mystics 32
Fever 31, Mystics 19
By Tom Rietmann
INDIANAPOLIS--The Indiana Fever offense lacked cohesion at times, but the defense didn't.
So the Fever relied on one of its bedrock principles, unrelenting pressure, to put away the visiting Washington Mystics on Sunday night. Using full-court heat and some intense double teams, Indiana forced the Mystics into 22 turnovers -- which led to 25 points for the Fever -- in a dominating 83-51 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“I thought our defense set the tone,” said Lin Dunn, who became the winningest coach in Indiana franchise history with her 79th career victory. “We were attacking in transition. We were disruptive. We expended an enormous amount of energy on the defensive end. I thought our press really bothered them.”
Washington's 51 points represented a season low for a Fever opponent and the third-lowest total in the WNBA in 2011. It marked the fifth time this year that Indiana has held a foe in the 50s.
“We were moving as well as I've seen us move on double teams,” said Katie Douglas, who led Indiana with 15 points. “We were getting after loose balls. We were getting deflections. Anytime you turn a team over 22 times and you get 25 points, good things are going to happen to the rest of your game.”
The Fever outrebounded Washington 37-28. Indiana hit 28-of-31 free throws (90.3 percent) while the Mystics attempted only 11, connecting on six.
Forward Tamika Catchings said the Fever talked about “coming out with firepower and jumping right on” the Mystics, who were coming off an emotional home loss to Chicago one day earlier. Indiana did just that, taking a 14-2 lead in the first 4 ˝ minutes while creating five turnovers and holding the visitors to 25 percent shooting.
“No matter what, our defense should be on,” said Catchings, who had 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. “That has a lot to do with your heart.”
The Fever strengthened its hold on first place in the Eastern Conference, lifting its record to 19-8 ahead of a five-day break before another home game Saturday against Atlanta. Indiana has won nine of its last 11 games.
“I feel like we have the pieces and we're playing really well together.” said Catchings, whose defensive work led to four steals, which tied Shannon Bobbitt for the team lead against the Mystics (5-20).
Though the Indiana offense wasn't operating at its highest level, Douglas and backup center Jessica Davenport experienced a return to some normalcy. Douglas, the Fever's second-best scorer at 12.8 per game, had averaged only six points over the previous three games. Davenport, the team's third-best scorer at 11.4, had gone five games without hitting double digits. She totaled 14 points against Washington, leading an output of 31 by Indiana's bench players.
“It was nice to see Davenport come in and assert herself,” Dunn said. “I thought the bench once again looked like the bench of old. Everybody played double minutes. I thought everybody contributed in a lot of ways.”
Postgame Notes: With tonight's win Lin Dunn becomes the winningest coach in Fever franchise history with her 79th career victory.
The Fever held the Washington Mystics to an opponent season-low 51 points tonight, the third fewest points scored in the WNBA this season. Seattle scored just 50 points at Los Angeles in June (6/19) and Chicago scored a league-low 49 points at New York earlier this month (8/4).
Led by Jessica Davenport's 14 points, the Indiana bench tallied 31 points, its most in the last six games, and its eighth of 30 or more points.
The Fever tied a season-high with 31 free throw attempts tonight and its 28 free throws made are its most this season.
Erin Phillips scored seven of her nine points from the foul line, establishing a career-high for free throws made and for attempts from the foul line with eight.
With a season-high tying 13 steals and just 12 turnovers, the Fever had more steals than turnovers for the third time this season.
The Mystics' 22 turnovers are one off the most committed by a Fever opponent this season and it has forced 20+ miscues six times this season. Three of the Fever's last five opponents have had 20 or more miscues.
The Fever outscored Washington, 26-16, in the paint and the Mystics' total is the fewest scored in the paint against Indiana since Chicago had 14 points in the paint in the season-opener, 6/4.
Tonight's 31-point win is the Fever's second largest of the season and its Indiana's biggest win ever over the Mystics.
With 15 points, Katie Douglas led the Fever in scoring for the second time in the last 14 games. Douglas has topped Indiana in scoring (including ties) nine times this season.
With her three 3-pt FG tonight, Katie Douglas has made 51 from beyond the arc this season, and she is the fourth player in the WNBA to do so in 2011.
Claiming more than two steals for just the second time this season, Shannon Bobbitt tied Tamika Catchings for team-high tonight with four--one short of her career-high set earlier this season.
Washington's 23 points in the first half tied the fewest scored against the Fever in any half this season.
Nicky Anosike's game-high four blocked shots are her most this season.
After winning just one of four games against the Mystics in 2010, the Fever has won four straight vs. Washington this season.