Zellous scores season-high 23 points to lead Fever in 78-73 win over Liberty
|STAR OF THE GAME
In just her third game in a Fever uniform after being traded from Tulsa, Zellous came off the bench and scored a season-high 23 points. Her point total is the fourth most for a bench player in Fever history. Zellous, who ranked second in free throws made last year in the WNBA behind Tamika Catchings connected on 10-of-12 from the charity stripe.
Catchings played a solid all-around game for the Fever with 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Known for her defense, Catchings, who is the league leader in steals per game had two takeaways and three blocks against the Liberty.
"You can see how excited we were to get Shavonte Zellous. We did good things in spurts. Overall we did what we needed to do to win. We are pleased to beat a tough team like New York. We got some good minutes from the bench. We out-rebounded them. It’s going to be tough to get on the flight to Minnesota."
On Shavonte Zellous:
"I am not amazed because I’ve watched her all off season in Istanbul. I know what she’s capable of. We saw her all last year. We were thrilled to have her picked up on our team. I feel like we are right there now."
Points in the paint:
Fever 30, Liberty 18
Fever 4, Liberty 10
Fever 19, Liberty 5
Points off turnovers:
Fever 15, Liberty 13
Fever 48, Liberty 52
Fever 30, Liberty 21
by Tom Rietmann | June 5, 2010
It was a fiercely contested and physical game – perfect, in other words, for the unflinching style of Shavonte Zellous.
Zellous, Indiana's newest player, turned in a second half to be remembered Saturday night as she led the Fever to a 78-73 victory over the New York Liberty at Conseco Fieldhouse. She led the Fever in scoring as well as tough-mindedness, especially in the second half. Nineteen of her game-high 23 points came after halftime, including nine of Indiana's first 10 in the fourth quarter, as the Fever pulled away from a stubborn New York team.
“I like some aggression,” said Zellous, acquired three games ago from Tulsa for a 2011 second-round draft pick. “I enjoyed this game.”
And Fever coach Lin Dunn enjoyed having Zellous on hand to help the Fever move to 4-3 ahead of Sunday's game at Minnesota.
“I guess you can see why we're excited to get Shavonte Zellous,” Dunn said. “She stepped up big for us off the bench. I thought she did a really good job defending, too.”
Zellous, a second-year player from Pittsburgh who can substitute at both guard positions and small forward, hit 10-of-12 free throws, including six in the fourth quarter. Her slashing, driving style gets her to the line often. She has connected on 18-of-21 free throws since joining the Fever.
“As the days go by, I'm getting more comfortable with everything,” said Zellous, whose 23 points were the fourth-highest total ever for a Fever player off the bench. “With the team, the schemes, everything, I'm just feeling more at home.”
New York (2-4) sliced Indiana's lead to 74-70 when Cappie Poindexter hit a 3-pointer with 23.7 seconds left. But then Zellous, after taking an inadvertent elbow in the face, extended the lead to six with a pair of free throws. Ebony Hoffman added two more free throws after New York made it 76-73 with 13.1 seconds left.
Counting the playoffs, it was Indiana's 15th straight home victory in the series against New York.
“I thought we showed a lot of poise and toughness,” Dunn said. “You knew they were going to make a run. They're too talented. We were relentless in our desire not to lose.”
While Zellous controlled the second half for Indiana, Katie Douglas led the Fever in the first 20 minutes. She hit 4-of-6 three pointers before halftime and ended with a 5-of-9 mark from the arc and 19 points. Douglas has hit 11-of-19 treys in the last three games after a slow start.
“I've just gotten into a little of a rhythm,” Douglas said. “It feels good. Teammates are doing a great job of finding me, and I'm trying to find the soft spots and get them in.”
However, it a fast-break layup by Douglas that brought a crowd of 8,090 to its feet in the third quarter. With 7 minutes left, Tamika Catchings dribbled full-speed toward the basket when she saw Douglas trailing her. Catchings flipped a no-look pass and Douglas scooped it in.
“I saw Katie coming out of the corner of my eye,” said Catchings, who had a game-high nine assists to go with 14 points and seven rebounds. “She was wide open and I got her the ball.”
Douglas and Catchings played for the same team in Turkey this past winter, a time they used to enhance their compatibility on the floor.
“I think that just goes back to us being in sync,” Douglas said. “She had a tremendous game with assists. We just kind of made eye contact on that play, and it worked from there. We played all offseason together and I think we have a connection. It definitely was an awesome look.”
In the final minute of the game, Fever point guard Tully Bevilaqua limped to the bench. With starter Briann January already out with a sprained knee, the Fever are in danger of being without a true point guard. Douglas, normally a shooting guard, has been seeing a lot of action at the point because of January's injury.
“I hope it's a minor sprain; (it's) some kind of foot sprain,” Dunn said Bevilaqua's injury. “The good news is, you're seeing that Zellous is also helping us some there (at point guard). We're giving her as many minutes as we can so we have another combo guard.”
-- As part of a celebration ahead of next year's NCAA Women's Final Four at Conseco Fieldhouse, former Women's Final Four participants gathered for a photo at midcourt prior to tipoff. Eleven Fever and Liberty coaches and players were in the picture with Sue Donohoe, vice president of NCAA Division I Women's Basketball. The 2011 Women's Final Four is April 3 and 5 at The Fieldhouse.
-- January, who has missed three games with her knee injury, continues to improve, Dunn said. January could possibly return by next weekend's two games against Connecticut.
Tonight's win is Indiana's 13th consecutive regular season home victory over the New York Liberty. The Liberty last won in Conseco Fieldhouse on July 19, 2002. Including postseason games, the Fever's streak is 15 in a row at home over New York.
With her 14 points tonight, Tamika Catchings scored 10+ points in her 25th straight regular season game, the third longest streak in franchise history, and one short of the second longest streak ever.
Newcomer Shavonte Zellous led the Fever with a season-high 23 points that fell just two short of her most ever in the WNBA. Zellous has scored 20+ points five times in her brief pro career.
Zellous's total included 10-12 FT and her free throw attempts were just one short of the most by player in the WNBA this season. Diana Taurasi shot 13 free throws vs. Atlanta, 5/28.
The Fever's 17 assists tonight included a season-high nine from Tamika Catchings, who also had two steals, three blocked shots, 14 points and seven rebounds. Catchings's three blocked shots are her season-high, and she has had at least two steals in all seven games this season.
The Fever, as a team, had nine steals, its first with fewer than 10 this season.
The Fever also tied a season-low with 14 turnovers tonight.
With her season-high five 3-pt FG, Katie Douglas came up one short of tying the Fever franchise record for 3-pt FG in a single game. In her last three outings, Douglas has shot 11-21 from 3-pt range.
On her way to scoring 14 points, Tamika Catchings was 8-8 from the foul line and that is the most free throws made by a Fever player, without a miss, this season.
Indiana outscored New York, 30-18, in the paint and it has outscored its last two opponents, 60-34, in the paint. Including the last two, the opposition has failed to score 30 points in the paint just three times.
Katie Douglas has shot 16-24 from the floor and averaged 21.5 ppg in the last two games. In the first five, she averaged 8.5 ppg and shot 16-48 FG (.333).
Cappie Pondexter led her team with seven rebounds tonight, her season-high.