Fever Hold Off Sky To Cap Emotional Night
By Wheat Hotchkiss | August 16, 2014
The Indiana Fever (16-17) put the perfect finishing touches on an emotional night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, holding off the Chicago Sky (15-18) in the regular season home finale on Saturday, picking up a 71-67 win to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
After retiring head coach Lin Dunn was honored in an emotional pregame ceremony, the Fever seemed to feed off that emotion at the start of Saturday's contest. Indiana hit 14-of-21 shots in the first quarter, jumping out to a 32-16 lead after the first 10 minutes.
"I didn't know how our players would respond, but boy I liked how they responded," Dunn said.
Added point guard Briann January: "We care so much about (Coach Dunn), and I think that really fueled our fire."
Indiana maintained a double-digit advantage through halftime, but Chicago dominated the third quarter. Elena Delle Donne had seven points and four rebounds in the period and the Sky outscored the Fever 21-10 to cut the deficit to just two points entering the fourth quarter.
The Fever opened the final period with a run of their own, reeling off a 1-4 spurt over the first 4:37. The Sky creeped back, cutting the lead to two on Allie Quigley's layup with 1:18 to play.
Tamika Catchings answered on the other end, sinking a reverse layup with 55.5 seconds remaining to extend Indiana's lead to 69-65. After a timeout, Quigley sank a jumper to keep the pressure on the Fever, but Catchings drew a foul on the ensuing possession and sank both free throws with 14.3 seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
Unlike earlier in the season when the Fever lost multiple double-digit leads at home, Indiana was able to make enough plays down the stretch to preserve the win.
"Just maintaining our efforts and attention to detail for 40 minutes," January said of the difference between Saturday and earlier in the season. "We were able to do that and regroup and really whether the lows and make a run of our own after the other team does."
Catchings led the way for Indiana, scoring a game-high 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. January added 14 points and seven assists.
Allie Quigley led Chicago with 17 points. Elena Delle Donne had 14 points and seven boards, while Epiphanny Prince scored 11.
As a team, Indiana outrebounded the Sky, 39-28, including a 16-5 advantage on the offensive glass. Another major key to the victory was the defense on Chicago's All-Star center, Sylvia Fowles. Erlana Larkins took primary responsibility for guarding Fowles, who finished with just four points (none in the second half) and seven rebounds in nearly 31 minutes.
"Anytime Sylvia is not scoring, then we have a chance to win," Dunn said.
Indiana has one more regular season game scheduled on Sunday night in New York. The Fever will face either Chicago or Washington in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. If Chicago beats San Antonio on Sunday night, the Fever and Sky will meet in the first round of the postseason for the second straight year. If Chicago loses on Sunday, the Fever will face the Mystics.
Indiana split four games with Washington and took three of five from Chicago in the regular season.
"Honestly it doesn't matter to us," Catchings said of the Fever's two poential first-round opponents. "We've talked about this over and over, once you make the playoffs, it's a whole new season. You don't even think about what happened in the regular season, as far as matchups go."
Indiana will host Game 1 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on either Thursday, Aug. 21 or Friday, Aug. 22.