Monarchs Top Fever, Win Seventh Straight

Monarchs 70, Fever 62 (F)
Rebekkah Brunson had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Sacramento Monarchs beat the Indiana Fever 70-62 Saturday night to match a franchise record with seven straight victories.
Sacramento 70, Indiana 62

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 26 (AP) -- Considering how well the Sacramento Monarchs are playing right now, the Olympic break might be coming at an inopportune time.

Rebekkah Brunson had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Monarchs, who beat the Indiana Fever 70-62 Saturday night to match a franchise record with seven straight victories.

The Monarchs go after the record Sunday in Seattle, where they play their final game before the Olympic break. Sacramento also won seven straight games in July of the 2006 season.

Brunson recorded a second straight double-double. She has played well despite a painful right knee that could use the monthlong break that all WNBA teams will have for the Olympics.

Against Indiana, Brunson was active inside, making 6 of 10 shots, collecting five offensive rebounds and blocking a shot.

"It (the knee) would have hurt a little bit more if we would have lost,'' Brunson said. "It could be helpful to our team to continue to play, but it will definitely be helpful for me to get some rest. But everyone in this locker room could use some rest right now.''

One thing that has rarely taken a rest during the Monarchs' winning steak is their defense.

"We came out a little slow tonight, but they took us out of our offense,'' said Indiana veteran Tamika Catchings, who shot 3 of 11 and scored eight points. "They made us miss shots and we didn't take care of the ball.''

Kara Lawson, who is the only Monarchs player who will play in the Olympics, scored 12 points. Both Nicole Powell and rookie Laura Harper scored 11 points for Sacramento, which has won five straight at Arco Arena and is 10-4 at home.

"We have always have been a team that starts kind of slow, but picks up steam midway,'' said Lawson, who had three 3-pointers. "Other teams, because they play less players, get into their rhythm earlier in the season. But other teams are tired this time of year, while we're still fresh. You can see that.''

Katie Douglas made three 3-pointers and scored 23 points for the Fever, which has lost three in a row and five of six overall.

Despite an unproductive second half offensively, and scoring only 11 points in the final period, the Monarchs quieted the Fever in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Struggling Indiana, which trailed by 17 points early in the third quarter, had 21 turnovers in falling to 3-9 on the road.

"When you're playing on the road ou have to come out and send a message, not come out and dig yourself a hole,'' Douglas said. "We were constantly fighting back against one of the teams that is playing better basketball.''

It's been a productive last two weeks for the Monarchs, who have moved from last place in the Western Conference to third behind Seattle and first-place San Antonio. The Monarchs final eight games are all against Western Conference teams.

"We are not a team that gets a lot of accolades, not like some of the other teams that have flashy players,'' Harper said. "It's showing how our team is starting to come together and it's been really fun.''

Sacramento played without Scholanda Robinson and Chelsea Newton, two key reserve guards who are nursing injuries. The victory avenged an earlier loss to Indiana when the Monarchs squandered an 18-point lead.

The Fever plays Sunday at Phoenix in their final game before having nearly a month off.

After Lawson's 3-pointer gave the Monarchs their biggest lead at 17 points early in the third quarter, the Fever responded with a 16-3 run, cutting the margin to 48-44. Indiana trailed 59-50 heading into the fourth.

Brunson and reserve forward Harper each had 10 first-half points for the Monarchs, who built a 40-26 lead by intermission. Harper made all five shots in the second quarter in helping the Monarchs to an 18-10 advantage.

Douglas scored eight points in the opening half, but it was a frustrating first two quarters for Catchings, who missed all five shots and was scoreless, and sat much of the second quarter with three fouls.

The Fever had no solution for Brunson in the first quarter. She repeatedly hurt Indiana inside, scoring 10 points and getting six rebounds to help Sacramento assume a 22-16 lead.

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