Catchings Scores 12 of Fever's Final 17 Points in 77-67 Victory Over Sun
|STAR OF THE GAME
Catchings came up big when the Fever most needed it, scoring 12 of the team's final 17 points. Catchings became the 11th player in WNBA history to pass 4,200 points and also recorded her 28th consecutive game of scoring in double-figures. Catchings added a season-high 13 rebounds and has connected on 30 consecutive free-throws with her 8-of-8 performance tonight.
Sutton-Brown played a solid game on both ends of the floor for the Fever, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds in 29 minutes of play. Sutton-Brown also contributed to the inside presence of the Fever, as she blocked three shots and limited Connecticut center Tina Charles to 1-of-8 shooting.
"Our defensive effort was much higher tonight. We set the tone early that we would defend better tonight. We focused on not letting Renee Montgomery score as much as she did Friday night. The best thing right now is that we have two days of practice and everyone is healthy. We did not match the Sun’s level of intensity when they made their comeback. However we did manage to get our focus back."
On taking over in last five minutes:
"I wasn’t focused on taking over or impose my will on the others. I am a motivational player and I was getting antsy on the bench and wanted back in. Our defense went up another notch. We had good rotation and everybody had each others back. We knew we needed to pull things together at that point."
Points in the paint:
Fever 28, Sun 14
Fever 14, Sun 8
Fever 12, Sun 12
Points off turnovers:
Fever 18, Sun 24
Fever 58, Sun 39
Fever 19, Sun 28
by Tom Rietmann | June 13, 2010
The Indiana Fever needed an igniter, so the team opted for one who's been reliable for nine seasons.
Tamika Catchings scored 12 points and turned in some fierce defense in the final 5 ½ minutes Sunday night to push her team past the Connecticut Sun 77-67 at Conseco Fieldhouse. Catchings' final numbers: 18 points and 13 rebounds for the 55th double-double of her career, plus four steals and two assists.
The victory, which upped Indiana's record to 6-4, clearly had Catchings' fingerprints all over it.
“She had that will to win,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “It's like, 'I'm going to rebound. I'm going to defend. I'm not going to let you get anything easily.' When she raises her game like that defensively, it brings up the whole team.”
The Fever needed that boost after letting satisfaction settle in.
Fueled by Katie Douglas, who had a game-high 20 points, Indiana grabbed a 20-point lead (54-34) with 5:31 left in the third quarter. The big stretch started for the Fever in the second quarter, when it shot 56.3 percent from the field to the Sun's 18.8 percent, and eventually expanded to a 34-18 run.
Then two things happened, according to Dunn.
“We lost our composure with the officiating,” the coach said. “When we didn't get the call the way we thought it should go, we stopped playing and stood around. And I thought we didn't match their level of intensity. Our players kind of relaxed a little as if the game were over.
“Hopefully, we learned a lesson. You never relax or let up, and quit whining about the officiating.”
The Sun outscored Indiana 26-6 and tied the game at 60-all with 7:05 left.
“Sitting on the bench, seeing that lead kind of dwindle down,” Catchings said, “it was like, 'OK, I'm getting antsy now. Put us back in.' It's just a matter of us having that will power that we're not going to lose.”
Indiana's starters returned to the game and outscored Connecticut 17-7 in the final 5:32. Eight of Catchings' 12 points in that stretch came at the free throw line, where she has now hit 30 straight. She single-handedly made a steal and sprinted the length of the court for a layup to give Indiana a 74-63 edge with 1:36 left.
Asked to describe Indiana's defense in the final minutes, Catchings said: “Oh my gosh. It was unbelievable. It definitely went up another notch.”
It wasn't bad earlier, either. Connecticut (6-3) shot only 36.1 percent from the field. Center Tina Charles, who came in as one of the leading scorers in the WNBA with a 15.9 average, was held to 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting.
“I thought we did a good job with team and individual defense on Charles,” Dunn said. “Give Tammy Sutton-Brown a lot of credit. She fought her all night long. Plus, the whole team was focused on not letting Charles get good touches.”
The Fever had to overcome periods of shoddy play that led to 23 turnovers. Indiana did so with rebounding toughness that resulted in a 39-24 edge over the Sun.
“It was just hard work,” Sutton-Brown said about how the Fever led the rebounding totals.
And it was a satisfying victory.
“I think it was a big win in the sense it was Connecticut, who we're chasing and is up there with Atlanta (in the Eastern Conference standings)” Sutton-Brown said. “This win at home, it's definitely a big one. We need to take care of home court.”
It won't get any easier. The Fever host Western Conference-leading Seattle on Thursday before another home game Saturday against Atlanta.
“We're still a work in progress,” Dunn said. “At times, you see us make turnovers and you just roll your eyes and say, 'Where did that come from?' The best thing for us is we have two days of practice before we play again. That's what we need, just to get more in sync. It's good to have this time to work on clicking offensively.”
-- Catchings was asked whether she was aware of her streak of 30 straight successful free throws, one shy of the team record she owns. “Don't say that,” she said, smiling. “Don't jinx me.”
-- Point guard Briann January, coming back from a sprained knee, didn't start but played nearly 15 minutes and appeared to have no trouble with the injury. Wearing a knee brace, she scored six points and recorded two steals.
Tonight's win is Indiana's fourth straight home win and its third in a row at home against the Sun.
With her 18 points and season-high 13 rebounds, Tamika Catchings registered her second double-double of the season and the 55th of her career.
With her first two points tonight, Catchings became the 11th player in WNBA history to score 4,200 points in her career.
Catchings's 8-8 from the foul line tonight lifted her consecutive free throws streak to 30 in a row, one short of the franchise record she established last season.
Including her 18 points this evening, Catchings has scored in double figures in 28 straight games, the second longest streak in franchise history.
Tully Bevilaqua's five steals are her most this season and one short of the most by any player in the WNBA this season.
Indiana had 13 steals as a team tonight, tying its most of the season. The Fever has had 13 steals three times in 2010.
With her 4-10 from beyond the 3-pt arc tonight, Katie Douglas has shot 19-38 (.500) from long distance in the last five games.
Connecticut's eight assists are its fewest of the season and one more than the fewest by any team in the league in 2010. The Washington Mystics had a WNBA season-low seven assists against the Fever in the home opener, 5/15. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota was the only Connecticut player with more than one assist and she had three.
Connecticut's 24 rebounds were also its fewest of the season and the fewest of the season by a Fever opponent.
Outrebounding the Sun, 39-24, the Fever outrebounded an opponent for just the fifth time (3-2) this season.
Including eight in the first quarter, the Fever had 23 turnovers, its most since having a season-high 26 at Atlanta, 5/16.
With her game-high 20 points tonight, Katie Douglas broke the 20-point barrier for the second time this season and she has scored in double figures in six straight games.
Indiana outscored the Sun, 28-14, in the paint tonight and has outscored its last five opponents, 144-94, in the paint.
Connecticut had five players that had two or more steals and the team totaled a season-high 14 thefts. That is also the most steals for any Fever opponent this season.
Indiana has now held an opponent under 70 points five times this season and won all but one of those games.