Indiana 75, Chicago 74
INDIANAPOLIS, July 18 (AP)-- The Indiana Fever have proven they can win big and win ugly.
Tamika Catchings had 22 points and 13 rebounds to help Indiana beat the Chicago Sky 75-74 Wednesday for its sixth straight win. The Fever may have the largest point differential in the league, but this was the third time in five games they won by a point or two.
"If you want to be a top team, you're going to be involved in some close games,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "Not every game is going to be free and easy and a blowout. Whenever you're in close games, you have to find a way to win.''
The Fever won this one with a defensive stop. Chicago (8-13) had the ball with eight seconds left, trailing 75-74. The Sky's Dominique Canty got tied up, and Indiana's Tully Bevilaqua made a steal. Catchings ended up with the ball and threw it down the court as time expired.
"We all just kind of swarmed on the ball as she tried to drive, and thankfully, she lost the handle,'' Bevilaqua said.
Catchings also had six assists for the Fever (16-4), who own the best record through 20 games in Eastern Conference history. Tammy Sutton-Brown added 12 points and six rebounds.
Dupree, an All-Star and Chicago's leading scorer, wasn't an option on the final play after fouling out. She committed her fifth foul with 14 seconds left and her sixth with 12 seconds remaining.
The Fever could have put the game away but missed four free throw attempts in the final 12 seconds. The last pair of misses, by Catchings, gave Chicago the ball down one with eight seconds to go.
"It was heart-wrenching seeing those foul shots bobble in and out,'' Bevilaqua said.
Chicago coach Bo Overton said he didn't regret Dupree's late fouls.
"The thinking was we were going to be down three, and we would have needed a (3-pointer) anyway,'' he said. "I think we executed perfectly at the end of the game. We just fumbled it away.''
The 10,542 fans were Indiana's largest home crowd in nearly four years.
Indiana fell behind 16-7 in the first quarter before forward Tamika Whitmore got a technical foul for arguing with an official. The Fever outscored the Sky 13-3 the rest of the quarter to take a 20-19 lead.
Indiana hosts Detroit on Friday night in a matchup of the league's two best records.
"Detroit's the champion, and until somebody knocks them off, they're still the champions.'' Winters said. "It's a big game - they know it, and we know it.''