84 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann | May 19, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- It wasn't always artful. The Indiana Fever players knew afterward there's sprucing up to do. Some clutter has to go.
“At times, it was really, really pretty, and at times, it was really, really ugly,” Katie Douglas said after the Fever wrapped up a 92-84 victory over Atlanta on Saturday night in the 2012 season opener. “But it's much more fun to learn from a win than it is from a loss.”
Similar comments came from all around the Fever locker room after the team pleased a Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd of 9,403 with the hard-earned triumph. Indiana placed five players in double-digit scoring, led by 21 from Douglas. Tamika Catchings scored 16, and Jessica Davenport had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
When Indiana's Shavonte Zellous, who totaled 11 points, opened the action with a 17-foot field goal, it provided a window to the rest of the game. The Fever led wire to wire.
Indiana knocked off a Dream squad that won all four regular-season games between the teams last year and then eliminated the Fever in the WNBA Eastern Conference finals.
“We love to start the season with a win,” Indiana Coach Lin Dunn said, “and we really love to start the season with a win over the Atlanta Dream.”
Asked to grade the opening-night triumph, Dunn gave it a B-minus.
“I thought our decision-making overall was the weakest part of our game,” Dunn said.
That was most evident in the third quarter, when Atlanta sliced a 47-32 deficit to two points at 62-60. But Indiana righted the ship, erupting for a 14-0 run that provided a 76-60 margin early in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-5 Davenport provided the biggest play, hitting a long 3-pointer as the third quarter expired.
“Earlier, in our shoot-around, I was kind of playing around and hit some crazy shots,” said Davenport, who was swarmed by her teammates after burying the trey. “Maybe that was a good thing that happened earlier.”
Indiana connected on 12-of-21 3-pointers (57.1 percent). The franchise record for 3-pointers in a game is 13.
Eight different Fever players had at least one trey, setting a new WNBA standard for most players to hit a 3-pointer in a game.
The Indiana bench produced 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Brian January led the reserves with 11 points.
“We just have such a deep bench this year,” said starting guard Erin Phillips. “We have so many options.”
Indiana forced 19 Atlanta turnovers and held the visitors to 41.9 percent shooting. Angel McCoughtry led the Dream with 26 points. Sancho Lyttle had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
When it was over, however, Indiana's players knew that work remains. The goal is an eighth consecutive playoff appearance at season's end. After that, a Fever team that changed little in the off-season and ranks among league favorites in 2012 will take aim at the WNBA title.
“Yes, it's great that we won,” Catchings said. “The crowd was awesome tonight, as always. We were able to get that 'W.' But looking at where we want to be at the end, we have to clean some things up.”