Catchings grabs 2,000th career rebound, Fever falls vs. Sun
|STAR OF THE GAME
Catchings led the Fever with 22 points and nine rebounds. With her second rebound in the first half, she became just the 10th player in WNBA history with at least 2,000 career boards. Catchings set the tone on defnese early for the Fever, with four steals in the first quarter.
January came off the bench and led the Fever reserves with 11 points, including a couple shots near the end of the game to keep the Fever close. January also collected four rebounds and dished out three assists.
"We saw a very good Connecticut team today. They were desperate for a win. We did not match their level of intensity. They were a 10 and we were a seven. They hurt us on the boards. We did not do a good job of finishing the little shots around the basket. We shot way too many three’s and we did not get into the paint enough. I’m very disappointed we did not play at a higher level."
"Mentally we have to learn and regroup from this. The WNBA season is so tight and compact you can’t get too high on a win or too low on a loss. We’ll make corrections at practice and be ready for the next game. We were not able to execute. They stepped up their play in the fourth quarter and we weren’t able to get stops in the end."
Points in the paint:
Fever 14, Sun 30
Fever 12, Sun 19
Fever 0, Sun 2
Points off turnovers:
Fever 21, Sun 12
Fever 49, Sun 42
Fever 19, Sun 35
By Tom Rietmann
When the Indiana Fever's offense jumped the tracks on Wednesday, also derailed were the team's seven-game home winning streak and its positive vibes.
In the aftermath of a 77-68 loss to the Connecticut Sun, Indiana was left to grapple with the frustration of failing to win at Conseco Fieldhouse for the first time since May 15. The Fever shot only 32.4 percent from the field and went nearly nine minutes without a field goal in a tell-tale stretch late in the game. Plus, neither the star player nor the head coach was satisfied with the Fever's approach.
“I'm really disappointed in our team,” said forward Tamika Catchings, who led the Fever with 22 points, “because I feel like we didn't come out and take care of business like we knew we needed to.”
Coach Lin Dunn graded the game with some numbers. “I grade Connecticut a '10.' They just played like they were desperate for a win,” she said. “We played like a '7.' We played like we had achieved something and relaxed.”
The loss put the Fever record at 11-7 and their hold on third place in the Eastern Conference in peril. Connecticut, right on Indiana's heels, lifted its mark to 11-8. The defeat also sends the Fever into Friday night's home game against stalwart Atlanta (14-6) in even more of a “must-win” mode.
“We obviously didn't have a sense of urgency today,” Dunn said. “Hopefully, we'll bring that on Friday against a very good Atlanta team.”
The veteran Catchings is simply looking for a preparedness on Friday that wasn't evident Wednesday.
“As we look at the next 16 games (to finish the regular season) and making a playoff push, we need to put ourselves in a position where we're not HAVING to win games at the end,” said Catchings, who also led Indiana with nine rebounds and is now the 10th player in WNBA history with 2,000. “In order to get a cushion, in order to make it to the playoffs, we have to win games NOW. As a team we have to realize that every single day you have to be ready.”
The Fever was outrebounded badly early, but their problems shifted to shooting in the second half. Indiana shot 27.8 percent (10 of 36) in the final 20 minutes.
Indiana missed 12 field goal attempts in a row from 2:12 of the third quarter to 3:15 of the fourth. Connecticut went on an 18-4 run over that span and grabbed a 66-58 lead.
“I wasn't really aware of that lull,” said Fever guard Katie Douglas, shaking her head when told about it. “We have to do a better job as players of just knowing what we need, trying to exploit what you can. Going those nine minutes, we weren't exploiting much.”
Dunn said her team got too “perimeter-oriented” in the game. The Fever attempted 29 3-point shots, hitting just seven. And when Indiana did go inside, there were too many missed layups.
Indiana's bench, a strong suit all season, totaled just 19 points after scoring 50 in a win over Tulsa last week. Dunn said the reserves, like the starters, looked “a little lethargic.” Briann January led the reserves with 11 points, with nobody else having more than four.
Sandrine Gruda led Connecticut with 21 points while Tina Charles had 14 and former Fever guard Tan White added 10. The Sun scored 30 of their 77 points in the paint and outrebounded Indiana 41-34. The Sun's 41 boards were the most by an Indiana opponent this year and reflected a continuation of the Fever's rebounding woes.
“We need to look at this tape and learn from it,” Catchings said. “It's disappointing for me because it seems like every single game we lose we're making excuses. Even in the games we win, we know rebounding is still an aspect, but it kind of gets covered up a little more when we win. It's something we have to figure out. .... We have to pick it up on the rebounding end.”
A crowd of 10,076, the biggest for a Fever game at Conseco Fieldhouse since May 2008, went home with a sense of frustration. Dunn is hopeful her team feels the same way.
“Hopefully, this will motivate our players and we can take our frustration out on Atlanta on Friday,” she said.
With her first two rebounds, the Fever's Tamika Catchings became the 10th player in WNBA history to collect 2,000 boards in her career.
Connecticut's win is its first at Conseco Fieldhouse since August 2008, and ended a run of four straight Indiana home wins in the series. All-time, Connecticut is 12-8 on the Fever's home floor.
Indiana's 32.4 percent shooting from the field today is its lowest mark of the 2010 season, and it has shot less than 40 percent from the floor three times in 18 games. The Fever opened the fourth quarter with 10 straight misses and missed a total of 12 shots in a row, going back to the end of the third period.
The Fever's 68 points today represent the fewest it has scored at home since it scored 65 points in its last loss at Conseco Fieldhouse to the Washington Mystics, 5/15.
With her 2-2 from the foul line today, Jessica Moore has shot 14-14 from the line in the last eight games.
Having led the Fever with 22 points today, Tamika Catchings tallied 20+ points for the second straight game, and fourth time in 2010. The last two games represent the only time she has scored 20 or more points in consecutive games this season.
The Fever's 11 steals today are its most in the last 11 games--since collecting 16 vs. Atlanta, 6/19.
Indiana's 34 rebounds today featured a season-high 18 offensive rebounds. Despite having four fewer offensive rebounds, the Sun outscored the Fever, 19-12, in second chance points.
Connecticut's 41 rebounds are the most by an Indiana opponent this season. The Sun had five players that each had at least six rebounds
The Fever scored a season-low 14 points in the paint while Connecticut scored 30. That is the 10th time this season that the Fever's opponent has scored 30+ points in the paint. Indiana has failed to score 20 points in the paint twice in 2010.
Sandrine Gruda's season-high tying 21 points featured 9-9 from the foul line and her nine free throws made are a career-high.
Tying Tully Bevilaqua for the team lead with three each, Briann January has led the Fever in assists for a third straight game.
Today's loss is the Fever's fifth (10-5) of 2010 when leading at the end of three quarters, but it is the team's first (7-1) when heading to the fourth quarter with a lead at home.
The nine-point margin ties Indiana's largest of the season. Both nine-point losses for the Fever have come at the hands of the Sun.