64 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann | September 1, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- Once again, some full-throated rooting by the fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse provided plenty of motivation.
Properly inspired, the Indiana Fever rallied from a woeful start Saturday night to string together impressive first-half runs of 18-2 and then 17-2 on the way to capturing an easy 81-64 triumph over the Chicago Sky.
It marked Indiana's fifth consecutive victory and seventh in eight games since the WNBA's Olympic break. It also represented a major milestone. The victory lifted Indiana's 2012 home record to 10-3, making the Fever the first WNBA team to win 10 or more home games in 11 consecutive seasons.
The constant in all 11 seasons? Thundering support from the Fever fans.
“Awesome,” forward Tamika Catchings said about the backing the Fever received Saturday from the 9,307 on hand. “Instead of getting quiet (during Indiana's slow start), they got louder. As a team, we feed off that.”
The Fever (17-8) clinched its eighth straight playoff berth, a streak that tops the Eastern Conference and ties a WNBA record. It will be Indiana's ninth postseason appearance in the franchise's 13-year history.
Indiana, in second place in the East, is shooting to catch conference-leading Connecticut (19-6) and gain the No. 1 playoff seed. With four of their last nine regular-season games at The Fieldhouse, the Fever players are looking for more earsplitting noise from their fans.
“The energy the crowd brings is tremendous,” Fever guard Biann January said. “I remember when we made it to the (WNBA Finals in 2009), I could barely hear myself think because our fans were so loud, so supportive and just kind of willing us to win.”
The Fever won against Chicago by overcoming a 1-of-11 shooting start and an early 10-point deficit. Indiana put away the visitors with contributions from nearly everyone on the roster.
January led Indiana with 19 points and four assists. Catchings collected 17 points and 10 rebounds for the 78th double-double of her career. Katie Douglas had 17 points and added five steals, which tied a career high and gave her a total of nine in the past two games.
Douglas also moved into fourth place in WNBA career steals but shrugged off the accomplishment.
“I would like to definitely add a (WNBA) championship to my resume,” she said. “That's my ultimate goal. Anything individually is not important. It's about this team and finding ways to win and competing for a championship.”
Indiana swept all five games from Chicago this season and has won 13 of the past 14 against the Sky. The home team appeared to be in trouble early in Saturday's game but gained momentum. Hitting 16 of its final 22 shots of the first half, Indiana held a 45-31 lead by the break and was never challenged again.
“I thought we took our defense up a notch or two, turned them over a couple of times and got some run-outs,” said Fever Coach Lin Dunn, whose team forced Chicago into 21 turnovers. “We just kind of established our will the rest of the game.”
Indiana, the leading 3-point team in the league, hit only 5-of-13 against the Sky. The Fever had to stage its first-half turnaround using other means. Douglas said it was a matter of poise.
“I think we just settled down,” Douglas said. “We called a timeout and talked about how they were playing us and made some adjustments. We kept our composure and made the adjustments and executed much better.”