Fever Stops Shock, 81-73
South Bend, Ind. - The Indiana Fever spoiled the homecoming of former Notre Dame standouts Bill Laimbeer, Ruth Riley and Niele Ivey in South Bend, Ind., Tuesday evening, as they upended the Detroit Shock 81-73 in the first preseason game of the year for both teams.
"We wanted to get off to a good start and show we could win, no matter who we had out there," said Fever Head Coach Brian Winters. "I thought we played well, but we have a long way to go before we're ready for the regular season."
"I thought there were some good things and some bad things as you would expect for the first preseason game", said Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer. "The same issues are there form last year - turnovers, missed free throws and allowing too many offensive rebounds, so we still have work to do."
Indiana emerged with a 66-64 lead with 4:55 to play when Tully Bevilaqua hit the first two of her six free throws in the game's final minutes. Ebony Hoffman's layin one minute later gave the Fever a four-point cushion and the Fever outscored the Shock 17-9 in the game's last five minutes.
Until Indiana stretched its lead in the game's waning moments, neither team led by more than five points in a game that was tied 18 times and saw 14 lead changes.
Kelly Miller led Fever players in double-figures with 16 points and four rebounds, and Tamika Catchings and Bevilaqua added 15 points apiece. Bevilaqua made an early case for best offseason acquisition as she made all three of her shots (all from three-point range) and all six of her free throws. Her season scoring high while a Seattle reserve last season was 10 points. Her regular season career-high is 14 points.
"Tully is a smart veteran player who played very well tonight," explained Winters. "She is an extremely solid player who knows how to run a team. I thought she played very well, and I also thought that Jenni Benningfield played a good game for us."
Benningfield shot 5-of-8 from the floor and Deanna Jackson, who added six rebounds, each scored 10 points off the bench for Indiana. Hoffman posted nine points and a team-high seven rebounds while starting at center for the Fever.
Cheryl Ford scored a team-high 18 points for Detroit, followed by Ruth Riley's 12 points and Stacey Thomas' 11.
"We know Stacey can play defense," explained Laimbeer. "That's a given, but tonight she was asked to score and I thought she did a great job."
Notes - The Shock were without 2004 starters Swin Cash and Deanna Nolan, while the Fever were minus Natalie Williams, Coretta Brown and first-round draft pick Tan White . . . Williams and Brown dressed, but did not play for precautionary rehab purposes while White completed final exams at Mississippi State . . . Indiana won the battle of the boards 41-35, including a 17-11 advantage on the offensive glass . . . Indiana connected on 30 of 33 free throws to Detroit's 21 of 32.