66 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann | September 14, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- The 3-pointers weren't connecting. Even some easy layups rimmed out. But the Indiana Fever persevered Friday night in a game it never led before falling 66-64 to the visiting Minnesota Lynx, the defending WNBA champions.
“I'm disappointed that we didn't win, but I'm thrilled that we had a chance to win on the last possession,” Fever Coach Lin Dunn said.
Indiana's Erlana Larkins, closely defended by Taj McWilliams-Franklin, missed from underneath as time expired at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On the previous possession, Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen drove the lane, slid to her left and banked in a fadeaway jumper from 10 feet for the winning points.
“She's so strong,” Indiana's Katie Douglas said of Whalen. “You saw her strength on that play. She definitely exerted her strength. She wasn't going to be denied. She hit a tough shot. When you get her going left, that's what we wanted. But she hit a great shot.”
The victory lifted Minnesota to 25-5. The Lynx, who played without injured guard Seimone Augustus, have already clinched the Western Conference's top seed for the playoffs.
Indiana, losing for only the third time in 13 games since the Olympics break, fell to 20-10. The good news for the Fever players: They'll get another shot at the Lynx on Monday night at Minnesota. Then they'll play Wednesday at the Connecticut Sun, whom they hope to unseat for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The story line for Indiana on Friday night revolved around its shooting. The Fever hit 38.8 percent from the field (26-of-67) and only 11.1 percent from the 3-point line (2-of-18).
Only a few of Indiana's long-range attempts were open looks. The Lynx clearly wanted to make sure the WNBA's top 3-point club was contained.
Douglas, who had hit 33-of-66 treys in the previous 11 games, went 0-for-6. Tamika Catchings was 1-for-6. Each finished with 14 points.
“They did a great job of scouting us,” said Douglas, who was guarded closely by Maya Moore most of the night. “We're going to have to be prepared for that the rest of the way. Everybody is going to know each other's plays.”
Catchings played 37 1/2 minutes and led the game in rebounds (12) and floor burns. However, last season's league MVP said she hurried her attempts during on an overall 5-of-15 shooting performance.
“I think they did run out at us, at Katie and me both,” Catchings said about the Lynx defensive pressure at the 3-point arc. “(It led to) not being able to get our feet set and just rushing shots. Now we can look at the tape and we'll be ready for them when we get out there on Monday.”
Briann January led the Fever with 16 points. The Indiana point guard lamented an early 8-0 deficit that her team incurred.
“We have to come out stronger from the jump,” said January. “We can't dig ourselves a hole with these good teams. Everybody is playing for their lives. Everybody's looking to peak.”
The Lynx would eventually build a 10-point edge in the first half, but Indiana righted itself. Sound defense and strong ball-handling in the second half enabled the Fever to outscore the visitors 31-25, making for the rousing final seconds.
Moore topped Minnesota's scoring with 15. Whalen contributed 14 and Devereaux Peters 13.
“It really shouldn't have come down to a last-second shot,” January said. “There's a lot of things we could have done earlier in the game not to put ourselves in that situation.”