Charles' Big Night Topples Fever

by Tom Rietmann

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever players and coaches were looking for a more upbeat sendoff to the White House.

The Fever's trip to meet President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. comes on Friday, a reward for the team's achievement of winning the 2012 WNBA championship. On Wednesday night, however, the rewards were few for an Indiana club that fell to the visiting Connecticut Sun, 73-61, and lost its fourth consecutive game of 2013.

The injury-depleted Fever's start (1-4) is the team's worst since 2001, when it went winless in its first five games.

“We're beat up. You can see it,” Coach Lin Dunn said. “We're not clicking on all cylinders. We have to get healthy. We have to keep chugging and plugging and do the best we can do.”

It was a case of too much Tina Charles. The Connecticut star scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, collecting her fifth double-double in as many games this season. The 6-foot-4 Charles scored 12 straight points for the Sun during a stretch that spanned parts of the second and third quarters.

“I thought she put us on her back tonight and carried us,” Sun Coach Anne Donovan said.

Connecticut shot 50.8 percent from the field (32-of-63). The visitors outrebounded Indiana 40-30. They took the lead at 12-11 with 5:30 left in the first quarter and never lost it.

The Fever struggled to connect on shots, which has been a season-long problem as the team awaits the return of four key injured players. Indiana shot 34.3 percent from the field (23-of-67).

Shavonte Zellous led the Fever with 14 points, hitting 5-of-15 from the floor. Tamika Catchings scored 11 on 3-of-15 shooting.

Numerous Indiana misses came from close range.

“I thought we battled,” Dunn said. “I thought we got some good minutes from our subs. I thought when we pulled within one in the fourth quarter that we might have a chance to steal the ballgame. But we're just missing too many open shots.”

The Fever opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, cutting the Sun's lead to 60-59. However, just as quickly, the Fever then missed eight straight field-goal attempts.

Charles contributed three of the Sun's next four buckets and effectively wrapped up the victory, the team's second against three losses.

“We aren't happy with the way things are going,” said Fever guard Briann January. “We are winners. We work hard every day. It's very frustrating. The mistakes we're making are things we can fix. That's a good thing.”

Erlana Larkins contributed 10 points for the Fever. Reserve Karima Christmas led Indiana with a career-high eight rebounds.

“I just try to come off the bench and bring as much energy as I can,” Christmas said.

As the Fever prepares for its next game -- Sunday afternoon on the road against Washington -- the team vows its perseverance will not waver.

“That's the one thing we can control. It's our effort,” January said. “We talked about that as a team. We know we're down, but we're going to keep fighting.”