Fever Tops Mercury, 84-75

STAR OF THE GAME
TAMIKA CATCHINGS
Catchings led the Fever with 23 points, 18 in the second half. Indiana's All-Star forward was perfect on 11 second-half free throw attempts to help stave off a late Mercury rally. Catchings also added five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
UNSUNG HERO
EBONY HOFFMAN
Hoffman quietly contributed 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting. After Phoenix had cut the Fever's lead to 56-54 with 10:43 to play, Hoffman contributed five points, two rebounds an assist and a steal. The second-year player out of USC led all Fever post players with 23 minutes.
QUOTABLE
BRIAN WINTERS
On finishing the preseason unbeaten:
"You always like to win games regardless of whether they are exhibition, or not. We want to get off to a good start. We used a lot of people tonight an I am happy that we won."

On improvements needed for the regular season:
“Well, we have some offenses we would like implement. We also have some special out of bounds plays and defensive sets we would like to perfect. We can always work on defense, and you can always improve the intensity.”
HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 28, Mercury 14
Fast-break points:
Fever 7, Mercury 7
Second-chance points:
Fever 14, Mercury 14
Points off turnovers:
Fever 12, Mercury 18
Starters scoring:
Fever 49, Mercury 56
Bench scoring:
Fever 35, Mercury 19
RELATED LINKS
Box Score
GAME REPORT
Fever 84, Mercury 75

May 15, 2005 at America West Arena (Phoenix, Ariz.)

PHOENIX—For 30 minutes, the Indiana Fever threatened a blowout in the desert Sunday night, but 23 of 25 free throws in the second half were needed to secure an unbeaten preseason.

Tamika Catchings scored 23 points to lead the Fever to an 84-75 WNBA preseason win over the Phoenix Mercury, and it was Catchings who provided most of Indiana's late free throws. Catchings was perfect from the line, hitting 11-of-11 all in the second half, and scoring 18 points overall after intermission.

Indiana (3-0) completed an unbeaten preseason despite a 34-point performance by the Mercury's Anna DeForge. Though the Fever maintained a double-digit lead through most of the game, it was DeForge's array of jumpers and free throws that helped bring the Mercury (1-2) within a pair, 56-54, with 10:43 to play. DeForge shot 10-of-20 overall and 10-of-10 at the charity stripe. She made four 3-pointers while adding four assists and two steals.

It was the preseason finale for both teams, meeting for the second time in five days. Indiana, which downed the Mercury 84-59 in Indianapolis on May 10, hosts Phoenix in a regular season encounter on May 24 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Like the game in Indy five days prior, Fever reserves staked Indiana to a substantial lead midway through the first period. After two quick fouls sent Fever point guard Tully Bevilaqua to the bench, rookie guards Yolanda Paige and Tan White helped spark an 11-0 run which broke a 13-13 deadlock. In all, 10 Fever players reached the scoring column during the first half alone, and the Fever lead remained in double figures until the midway point of the final period.

The Fever led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and led 47-29 on Catchings' 3-pointer with 18:28 remaining in the contest. Bevilaqua picked up a second pair of quick fouls shortly thereafter, though, and with the veteran point guard on the bench, Phoenix proceeded to outscore the Fever 25-15 in the second half's first 10 minutes. What was once a near-blowout had become a one-possession game.

In the end, Indiana's march to the line proved too much for the Mercury as the Fever finished 26-of-28 at the foul line overall - its third straight game with at least 25 free throws. By contrast, Indiana averaged just 13.2 free throws in 2004. Similarly, Indiana posted its third consecutive game with 80 points or more, compared to its 2004 average of 64.6.

The Mercury stayed within 63-60 on a pair of free throws by former Fever guard Rita Williams, but four straight charity tosses by Catchings pushed the Fever lead to seven, with 6:00 to play. DeForge's final 3-point basket made it 69-65 with 4:33 to go, but a Catchings layup and two Ebony Hoffman free throws gave the Fever an eight-point cushion with 2:38 remaining. The Mercury twice got within six in the final minutes, but the parade of free throws sealed Indiana's win.

Hoffman added 11 points and four steals, and Kelly Miller contributed 10 points. Kelly Schumacher paced the Fever with six rebounds. DeForge was the only double-figure scorer for the Mercury. Diana Taurasi, plagued by foul trouble, managed six points and six assists. Rookie forward Angelina Williams had seven points and six boards for the Mercury.


FEVER NOTEBOOK
  • Indiana’s regular season opener is Sunday, May 22 (6:00 p.m.) against the Charlotte Sting. The first 3,000 fans will receive Schedule T-Shirts, courtesy of Community Health Network.
  • The Fever will conduct a Rally on the Circle, sponsored by Emmis Communications, on Thursday, May 19, from Noon to 1:00, featuring Freddy Fever and the entire Fever team for lunch, prizes and chances to win tickets to Sunday’s home opener.
  • Fever rookie Tan White was selected as the overwhelming favorite for WNBA Rookie of the Year honors in a survey of league GMs.
  • Yolanda Paige had seven points and two assists vs. Phoenix, and was perfect on five free throw attempts. The rookie point guard finished the preseason 19-of-22 at the foul stripe. Catchings finished the preseaon 15-of-17 at the line. As a team, the Fever finished the preseason shooting 84 percent (81-of-96) at the foul line.