Indiana's Third Quarter Blitz Sends Fever to 4th Win in 5 games


WNBA | Prudential Center (Newark, N.J.)

July 13, 2013

NEWARK – The Indiana Fever used a devastating third quarter blitz to race past the New York Liberty on Saturday evening, 74-53, at Prudential Center.

Clinging to a 37-34 lead at intermission, the Fever came out of the locker room to outscore the Liberty 31-6 in the third period and race to a 28-point advantage after three quarters. Combined with the final six points of the first half, the Fever’s 37-6 run nearly put the game out of reach.

“I thought we seemed to have more energy than they did,” said Fever coach Lin Dunn. “We’ve been playing a lot with our backups and we’ve been drilling with them to get better. We’ve really focused on our defense and I think that’s what helped us tonight.

“And I think Briann January needs some of that credit. Whenever you hold Cappie Pondexter to 10 points, that’s a big contribution.”

In the pivotal third, Indiana shot 57.9 percent including 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Erin Phillips led the charge with nine points while Tamika Catchings and rookie Layshia Clarendon each added six. New York shot just 2-of-11 in the quarter and its eight turnovers turned into 11 Fever points. And while the Liberty outrebounded the Fever overall (39-32), Indiana used an 11-4 advantage to spark the third period blitz.

Fever center Erlana Larkins scored a season-high 15 points for Indiana on 7-of-9 shooting. She added six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Larkins, who posted a season scoring high in consecutive games said, “We came in with nine people and we won with our effort. It helps us keep gaining confidence.

As for her increased scoring, she added, “I think I’m being more aggressive. The coaches have recently given me a ‘no passing zone’ in which they want me to drive instead of pass. It’s helped make me more aggressive.”

Indiana (5-8), which was 1-7 less just 16 days ago following a rash of injuries, has slowly begun piecing together the chemistry that led the franchise to the 2012 WNBA championship. Phillips’ return to the lineup two days ago, following knee surgery in May, has allowed the Fever’s five Finals starters to appear together for the first time. By the close of the third quarter Saturday, all five were in double figures.

Shavonte Zellous finished with 13 points, to extend her double-digit scoring streak to 13 games – one of just three WNBA players with double-figure points in every game this season. Phillips added 12 off the bench while Catchings and Briann January each had 10.

Plenette Pierson led the Liberty (6-8) with 12 points, though all came in a first half that marked by back-and-forth play producing 10 ties and 11 lead changes as neither team led more than 3 points.

The Fever is idle for six days before hosting Washington on Friday, July 19 (7:00 p.m.) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.