72 at Indiana
By Associated Press | August 18, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever can watch the videotape of Saturday night's 86-72 victory over Atlanta, package it and file it under E -- for exceptional.
“A really good win against a really good team,” Coach Lin Dunn said after her Indiana club lifted its record to 12-7 ahead of a three-game trip to play Western Conference teams.
Nobody on the Fever roster produced more exceptional play than Katie Douglas, who led all scorers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a season-high 29 points. She hit her first shot -- a layup -- and used that to jump-start a performance that saw her connect on a franchise-record seven 3-pointers in nine attempts.
Indiana, the WNBA's top 3-point team, totaled 12 in 27 tries. In fact, the club totaled at least 12 3-pointers for the fifth time this season compared to just three times in the first 12 years of its existence.
“Katie was hot,” Dunn said. “We started calling her number. We were calling any plays we could think of to get her 3s.”
Douglas, who has hit six 3-pointers a number of times in her career, knew she was having a nice night but didn't realize it was record-setting. She pointed to her opening layup as the pace-setter.
“As a shooter, when you see the ball go in on that first shot, it kind of starts loosening things up,” she said. “I felt extremely loose in warmups and then my teammates were doing a great job of finding me.
“Really, this win for us started defensively,” Douglas added, glancing at a boxscore that showed the Dream with just 12 first-quarter points. “Good defense for us translates to good offense. We were able to lock them up in the first quarter and that kind of helped us get momentum.”
What made the victory especially satisfying for Indiana was the way all 11 players contributed. The Fever held Atlanta to 35.4 percent shooting (23-of-65) and rebounded competitively with the visitors.
Three Indiana players besides Douglas reached double-digit scoring: Tamika Catchings with 17, Briann January with 13 and Shavonte Zellous with 11.
Zellous turned in a strong defensive effort against Angel McCoughtry, the WNBA's leading scorer, who reached her average with 22 points but needed 19 shots. Zellous battled McCoughtry all over the floor in an effort to deny her the ball. And if she got it, Zellous was in her face.
Zellous' teammates noticed the hard work.
“Offensively and defensively, she's coming into her own,” Catchings said. “She's a lot more comfortable with where she's going to get her shots. And defensively, to have somebody out there like her who can defend the best players, that's a really big asset for this team.”
Said Zellous: “My goal was to limit Angel's touches. At the end, she got off a little bit, but we came out with this great team win.”
Atlanta never led. The Dream's 22.2 percent shooting in the first quarter and an early 13-1 run by Indiana set the tone. The Fever opened an 18-point bulge in the second quarter while McCoughtry, who had only four points at halftime, struggled to get going.
“Nothing came easy for her,” Dunn said about her team's defense on McCoughtry. “We were trapping her a lot when she drove the baseline. I thought Z did a really good job. That's about the best we can do with her. She's that good.”
The victory -- Indiana's second straight at home -- enabled the Fever to retain a solid second-place position in the Eastern Conference, three games behind Connecticut (16-5) and three games ahead of Atlanta (10-11).
“I felt like this was a really complete game for us,” Catchings said. “Just from an execution standpoint, I thought we did a good job for 40 minutes. From the beginning of the game, I just felt like we kind of steamrolled through.”