65 72

STAR OF THE GAME
Tammy Sutton-Brown
Brown led the Fever with 12 points on six-of-nine shooting. She also collected six rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal.
UNSUNG HERO
Shay Murphy
Murphy came off the bench to score nine points and grab three rebounds. She was agressive all night and helped her teammates stay positive.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“I want to give credit to Washington. They were very physical, played hard and hustled all night. At times we did good things but we never got our rhythm. I would like to attribute that to the fact we have not practiced together but that’s not an excuse. Our rotations on defense were slow. We make a run, then we miss a lay-up and a free throw. Tried to play everyone to keep the minutes down.”

Tammy Sutton-Brown
In general:
“You think you can fight jet-lag, but you can’t. We just have to grind out these two games and dig deep and try to grind out the game tomorrow. The Mystics played hard. We swept them last year and they have not forgotten it. They were well prepared. Right now we need to reflect on this game, try to grind out tomorrow and hopefully get a few days this next week to rest up and get back on schedule.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 28, Mystics 34
Second-chance points:

Fever 15, Mystics 13
Fast-break points:

Fever 6, Mystics 4
Points off turnovers:

Fever 27, Mystics 19
Starters scoring:

Fever 44, Mystics 63
Bench scoring:

Fever 21, Mystics 9
Jet-Lagged Fever Falls In Opener

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Washington 1-0 19 18 15 20 72
at Indiana 0-1 15 16 13 21 65

By Tom Rietmann
Jet lag for four starters who traveled across seven time zones a few days earlier contributed to the uneven performance. Lack of practice time for those same starters made for a game with jagged edges.

When it ended Saturday night, the Indiana Fever were stuck with a 72-65 season-opening loss to the Washington Mystics in Conseco Fieldhouse. The Fever couldn't overcome a 37.3 percent field goal mark (25-of-67) and a 35-22 deficit in rebounds.

A night that started with the franchise raising a banner to celebrate last season's Eastern Conference championship ended in disappointment for Indiana's players as well as 9,752 fans.

“Anytime you get beat on the boards 35-22, you're getting outhustled and out-physicaled by a good team,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said, giving credit to a Washington club that went 0-6 against the Fever in last year's regular season and playoffs. “I thought Washington really played well and brought their 'A' game.”

A combined 40 points by Washington's forward tandem of Crystal Langhorne and Monique Currie gave Indiana fits. The Fever's scoring droughts left them fighting from behind most of the game, and Washington put it away with a 10-2 run that resulted in a 13-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

Dunn was forced to limit the minutes of starters Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Ebony Hoffman and Tammy Sutton-Brown because of concern about fatigue. All four finished their season in the Turkish League on Tuesday and flew to Indianapolis in time for only one practice with the Fever on Friday. The game tipped at 7 Saturday night, when it was 2 a.m. in Turkey.

It showed. As Dunn pointed out, there was a lack of rhythm offensively and defensively. Catchings and Sutton-Brown led the Fever with 12 points apiece. Douglas added 10.

“Obviously, we know the schemes,” the veteran Douglas said, “but you definitely need a refresher course. We didn't have time for that. It was very evident tonight there was a lack of practice and preparation. It was evident the game was choppy and not very well played.”

Defensively, according to Hoffman, is where the the jet lag and lack of preparation really showed.

“Offense comes and goes, but it was our defense that was really lagging,” Hoffman said. “Rebounds, we weren't in the right spots. Turnovers, we were passing the ball all over the place. We had no timing.”

Hoffman smiled when asked whether her body clock was anywhere near normal.

“At halftime, I didn't know where I was,” she said. “But honestly, it's no excuse. We have to suck it up. We have to overcome it. The league's not going to stop.”

It won't get easier. The Fever were scheduled to travel Sunday morning to Atlanta for a game that night against the Dream.

“We better learn from this game and get better,” Dunn said. “Everybody in this league is very, very good. And we have a mark on our back. We're the hunted.”

FEVER BITS
-- Fever point guard Briann January scored only three points and was 0-of-8 from the field. “She has to slow down,” Dunn said. “She's going 90 miles per hour and needs to go about 75.”

-- Catchings said Indiana's four players who just returned from overseas will get some rest time following Sunday's game at Atlanta and return to intensive practices later in the week. “When we go back at it, we have to go at it full force and get ready,” she said.
As for her difficulty with jet lag, she added: “This morning I woke up at 3, 5, 7 and finally got up. It's one of those things, it's just going to take time. Hopefully, my body will catch up soon.”

-- Former Indiana guard Tamecka Dixon was honored by the Fever on Saturday night in conjunction with the team's raising of the Eastern Conference championship banner. Dixon, a 13-year veteran and one of the league's original players, retired after Indiana's push last season to the WNBA Finals.
“I didn't know I was going to be honored tonight; I just wanted to be here to support my team,” said Dixon, who traveled from New Jersey. “It's really a great feeling to be recognized like this.”
Dixon was a three-time All-Star and two-time league champion with the Los Angeles Sparks. She averaged 4.1 points for last season's Fever team.
Dixon played in Italy this past winter and plans to return for another season.
“Realistically, maybe I could have played another season (in the WNBA),” she said. “But, then, it was also time to give my body a little rest (from playing year-around.)”

-- With the win over the Fever, the Mystics ended a seven-game losing streak in the series. Indiana still leads 24-12, including 13-5 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

-- In 2009, the Fever lost its home opener and was 0-2 before righting the ship and going on to the WNBA Finals. They won a franchise-record 22 games in the regular season.


Game Notes

  • With tonight's win, the Mystics end their six-game losing streak at Conseco Fieldhouse and their seven-game overall losing streak to the Fever.
  • After winning seven straight home-openers from 2002 to 2008, the Fever has lost each of its last two home-openers. Indiana started 2009 with losses in each of its first two games, before going on to set a franchise record for wins in a season with 22.
  • Washington's 26 turnovers tied for the fourth most ever committed by a Fever opponent, and they are the second most ever by the opposition in a Fever loss. Atlanta had 27 turnovers in a win over Indiana, 6/6/09.
  • Outrebounded, 35-22, by the Mystics, the Fever's nine defensive rebounds are its fewest ever in a regular season contest. Nine defensive rebounds tied the fourth fewest ever by one team in WNBA history. That is fewest defensive rebounds in a game for one team since Charlotte had nine against San Antonio, 6/23/05.
  • However, the Fever claimed 13 offensive rebounds to Washington's nine and Indiana outscored the Mystics, 15-13, in second chance points.
  • Including two each from Tamika Catchings, Briann January and Allie Quigley, the Fever had 12 steals tonight. Indiana collected 10 or more steals 24 times in 34 games in 2009.
  • Including three from Tammy Sutton-Brown, the Fever had eight blocked shots tonight and got at least one rejection from six different players. Eight blocks matched Indiana's 2009 regular season-best.