88 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann | July 5, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever players sat quietly in their locker room Thursday night as they grappled with the fallout of an 88-72 loss to the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars.
The Fever, uncharacteristically, came unglued in the second half. After leading by 18 points in the first half, the Indiana team gave up 60 in the second and got outscored by 31 as it yielded 72.2 percent shooting to San Antonio in the final two quarters.
Saying it was a tale of two halves would be an understatement. Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who recorded the 75th double-double of her career with 17 points and 15 rebounds, slumped at her locker afterward.
“The first half, we played really well together and moved the ball,” Catchings said. “The second half, it was like everybody trying to do everything by themselves, me included.
“It's just frustrating,” the 2011 league MVP said, “because we're too good of a team to be in situations like this. … When you look around this locker room and you look at the players we have, it's just disappointing to be losing games like this. We come in at halftime, we're up, everybody's smiling, everybody did the right things. We come out (in the second half) and we don't do the same thing. It's like, where did the team go?”
Indiana bombarded San Antonio with 3-pointers in the first half, hitting 6-of-7 at one point to capture a 41-23 lead. The Fever hit 9-of-13 treys in the first half before cooling off in the second, but Indiana still totaled 12 for the game. It marked Indiana's fourth game this season with 12 or more 3-pointers, which had occurred a total of only three times in the franchise's 12 seasons before 2012.
But the early 3-point success, perhaps, gave the Fever a false sense of security.
“We kind of fell in love with the 3 and didn't get into the paint like they did,” Fever Coach Lin Dunn said, looking at the statistics sheet. “You can see the difference there. They had 36 points in the paint, we had 10, and I thought our defense was just low energy.”
For Indiana, it was simply a clunky second half. The Fever hit just 10-of-33 shots from the field and 3-of-13 from the 3-point arc in the final 20 minutes. The home team was outrebounded 22-14. Three San Antonio players scored in double digits in the final two quarters, led by Becky Hammon with 14 that led to her team-high 19 for the game.
“I thought we came out and played extremely well (in the first half),” said Fever guard Katie Douglas, who led Indiana with 19 points. “We were high energy in the first half, and they looked disrupted. They just kind of flipped the script on us in the second half. … We came out flat, and we came out, for some reason, a little out of it.”
The Fever played the second half without guard Erin Phillips, who suffered concussion-like symptoms after catching an elbow while rebounding late in the second quarter. Dunn said Phillips' absence significantly altered the Fever's player rotations, causing Douglas and point guard Briann January to play more minutes.
But Indiana's problems extended beyond that, including “some bad decisions” in the last two quarters, Dunn said.
“You have to give San Antonio credit,” the coach said. “They are very good. They got hot, and I didn't think we matched their level of intensity and effort in the second half.”
Dunn has praised her team in the past for its “tough-minded” approach and perseverance. That will get a stern test on Saturday night when Indiana (8-6) meets Chicago (8-5) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We have to rally and re-focus and get ready for Chicago,” Dunn said. “Everybody's good. Just because you're home doesn't mean it's an automatic win. Hopefully, we can learn from this experience. You have to play two full halves. You have to play hard and smart, and you have to deal with adversity.”