A Season Sweep
|STAR OF THE GAME
Catchings led the Fever with her double-double performance of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Catchings, who is known as a great defensive player came up with a key block late in the fourth quarter to help her team win the game. Catchings also finished the contest with six assists and two steals.
January scored 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting and made timely buckets when the Sky cut into the Fever lead in the second half. January also came up with a steal on Chicago's final pocession with 10.9 seconds reminaing and the Fever up 77-74. She then made a free throw to seal the win for Indiana.
"We played a pretty good first and second quarter. Not so good third quarter. We came out throwing the ball all over the gym. We did get good help from our bench. Chicago is in last place right now, but could be in first or second in a week. We wanted to be disruptive. Bri (Briann January) is a work in progress. She dribbled way too much tonight. When we relax and start turning the ball over, it gets ugly."
On Building Big Lead:
"I really don’t know. I just know what we talk about and what we know is to start the game with a lot of energy. Sometimes what we talk about doesn’t translate into the way we play. We have to figure out how to stop that. We have Washington coming in on Friday and then we go to Atlanta. Those are two huge games. We’ve got to make sure we play 40 minutes of solid, focused basketball."
Points in the paint:
Fever 32, Sky 42
Fever 11, Sky 8
Fever 6, Sky 11
Points off turnovers:
Fever 11, Sky 23
Fever 55, Sky 46
Fever 23, Sky 28
By Tom Rietmann
The Indiana Fever accomplished its mission and strengthened its grip on first place in the Eastern Conference. And the Fever, by finishing off a five-game season sweep of Chicago, even grabbed a little piece of WNBA history.
But when it was over and Indiana embraced a 78-74 victory over the Sky on Tuesday night, that sound you heard coming from the Fever locker room at Conseco Fieldhouse was a collective sigh of relief.
Indiana frittered away most of a 21-point lead it held in the second quarter. Some careless ball-handling in the third quarter led to seven turnovers and a dozen empty possessions over the 10 minutes. Chicago sliced the Fever lead to 50-45 with 3:40 left in the period.
“We were throwing the ball all over the gym,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. “I think maybe we might have come out thinking the game was over.”
It made for some excitement in the fourth quarter. Three times in the final 4 ½ minutes, Indiana led by only two. But a couple of big defensive plays -- a running blocked shot by Tamika Catchings and a steal by Briann January -- helped Indiana yank out a victory.
The Fever, lifting its record to 16-7, became the first team in WNBA history to beat the same opponent five times in one season. The win also was Indiana's fifth straight overall as the team prepares for a visit by Washington on Friday night.
Counting a pair of preseason games, Indiana met Chicago seven times this year. Familiarity, in this case, probably led to some lax play.
“It was just not coming out with that same energy (in the second half),” said Catchings, who led the Fever with 16 points and 10 rebounds. “We'll talk about it. As we get down the stretch, for 40 minutes we have to play hard-nosed defense and offense.”
Said Katie Douglas, who scored 13 for Indiana: “I feel like (Chicago) knows our plays and we know their plays better than they do at times. (But) these are the kind of games that are going to make us better and that we're going to continue to have with the tight Eastern Conference.”
The Fever did a nice job on Chicago star Sylvia Fowles, holding her to 16 points and eight rebounds, under her averages of 18 and 10. Indiana used an aggressive, trapping defense most of the game and held the Sky to 43.3 percent shooting (29-of-67).
“We wanted to disrupt them,” Dunn said, going on to rate her team with numbers. “In the first half, I thought we played defensively at a 10. In the second half, it was maybe a 7 or 8. We weren't as aggressive and weren't rotating out.”
But Indiana made big plays when needed in the final minutes. Catchings' block on Mistie Bass with 1:47 left prevented a sure-fire bucket.
“She kind of gave us some time with that little shot fake,” Catchings said. “And when she put it up, it was like, 'Oh yeah.' ''
With nine seconds left and Indiana leading 77-74, January intercepted a pass by former Fever Shay Murphy. A few ticks later, January hit one of two free throws for the final margin.
“In the second half, we just got away from what was working,” said January, who hit 5-of-6 shots and scored 15. “We needed to pound it inside more. Our posts were automatic attacking Fowles. She's a great shot blocker, but we were doing great things inside and I think we got away from that a little.”
The Indiana bench turned in another strong effort, totaling 23 points, led by Jessica Davenport with 10. Indeed, the reserves scored Indiana's first 10 points of the fourth quarter to hold Chicago at bay.
The Fever also helped itself by shooting 50 percent for the game (30-of-60), including 46.7 percent from the 3-point line (7-of-15), and outrebounding Chicago 37-28.
After it ended, however, the Fever seemed happy the season series with Chicago (12-13) was finally over.
“It's not unusual to kind of lose your focus against a team like that,” Dunn said. “But when we now get ready to play Washington, get ready to play Atlanta, I think you'll see us play more focused the entire time.”
-- Indiana's Shavonte Zellous missed her third consecutive game with left ankle tendinitis.
-- Murphy, who was released by the Fever earlier this season, signed with Chicago two games ago. She totaled 12 points in 18 ½ minutes on Tuesday night.
With tonight's win, the Fever has won five straight games for the first time since its franchise-record 11-game winning streak in 2009 (6/9 to 7/17). Five straight wins ties the third longest winning streak in franchise history.
Tonight's win marks the first time in WNBA history that a team has beaten the same opponent five times in the regular season
Indiana has swept the season series with Chicago for the first time ever. Indiana swept the season series from two different Eastern Conference opponents in 2009 (Washington and New York).
With her team-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds, Tamika Catchings registered the 65th double-double of her career, tying her with Taj McWilliams-Franklin for seventh all-time in league history.
Catchings added a team-high six assists and she has led the Fever in points, rebounds and assists in the same game five times this season.
With a team-high three steals tonight, Katie Douglas has 481 in her career.
Having been outscored 28-23 by the Sky bench, Indiana's reserves were outscored for just the sixth time in 2010. Former Fever reserve, Shay Murphy, led Chicago's bench with 12 points--her first game in double figures since joining the Sky.
Indiana outrebounded Chicago, 37-28, and that is just the eighth time (6-2) that the Fever has outrebounded an opponent.
Indiana is now 14-3 this season when scoring 70+ points and it is 8-5 when allowing its opponent to score 70+ points.
Including her 15 points tonight, Briann January has scored 10+ points in three straight games for the first time since a career-high four straight games in September 2009.
January's three 3-pt FG tied her career-high and she has hit three in each of the last two home games.
Chicago outscored the Fever, 42-32, in the paint, tying the most points in the paint scored against Indiana this season. Atlanta had 42 points in the paint at Conseco Fieldhouse, 6/19.