STAR OF THE GAME
Katie Douglas
Douglas scored seven of the Fever's first 10 points, en route to a team-high 19 points. She also added seven rebounds and three assists in the victory.
UNSUNG HERO
Tangela Smith
Smith scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers for the Fever. She also added five rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“Chicago was very competitive from the start and we knew they would be. We did a good job defensively. Tammy Sutton-Brown did a great job on Fowles (Sylvia). It’s good to win the boards. We were a little out of sync with our open shots. We did a good job executing offensively. Little disappointed in missing so many open shots. I bet Phoenix wishes they still had Tangela Smith.”

Katie Douglas
On First Game:
“We talked about getting off to a quick start. We wanted a high octane offensive team. We know there are peaks and valleys. We got away from what was working for us. Then we wanted to expose what they were doing.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 24, Sky 14
Second-chance points:

Fever 19, Sky 8
Fast-break points:

Fever 6, Sky 8
Points off turnovers:

Fever 6, Sky 16
Starters scoring:

Fever 57, Sky 40
Bench scoring:

Fever 8, Sky 17
Indiana's Douglas, Smith and defense too much for Chicago

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Chicago 0-1 13 16 13 15 57
at Indiana 1-0 21 12 16 16 65

By Tom Rietmann

INDIANAPOLIS -- Are there any questions now concerning the Indiana Fever's off-season acquisition of 34-year-old forward Tangela Smith?

“Now you know why we wanted Tangela Smith,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said after the Fever's 65-57 victory Saturday over visiting Chicago in the season opener. “And you know why I'm betting Phoenix wishes they still had her.

“She started the game just like we thought she would. She spreads the floor for us, she runs the floor, she defends. And she's just a great person to be around.”

Smith hit 6-of-13 shots, including 4-of-7 3-pointers, for 16 points with five rebounds. Her marksmanship, along with Katie Douglas' 19 points, helped to hold the Sky at bay on a night when the Fever's team shooting was just 30 percent (21-of-70).

“I took what the defense gave me,” said Smith, who won two WNBA championship rings during her stint in Phoenix. “Sometimes they were leaving me open. Maybe they were focusing on Katie and (Tamika Catchings) all the way. I think it worked out great.”

The Fever built a 14-point lead in the second half, but Chicago wouldn't go quietly. Epiphanny Prince, who led the Sky with 20 points, hit a 3-pointer to cut Indiana's lead to 57-54 with 3:50 left in the game.

But that's when Indiana went to work.

Douglas buried a 3-pointer. Then she added a layup off an over-the-head, no-look pass from Catchings, and later sank a free throw. Then Catchings scored on a driving layup.

The Fever enjoyed a 65-54 with 1:50 left.

Said Catchings, explaining her nifty pass to Douglas off a jump ball: “I saw Katie, (moving like) a streak behind the Chicago Sky. I thought if I could just throw it towards the basket, she'd get to it.”

Chicago managed only 35.1 percent shooting (20-of-57). But the home team had trouble putting the game away as it, too, struggled mightily at the offensive end.

“I thought there were times where we got some great looks and still were missing,” Dunn said. “But down the stretch, when we needed to execute, we did.”

Indiana point guard Briann January went 0-for-11 from the floor. But she persevered and contributed in other ways, collecting four assists and four steals.

“She did some wonderful things,” Dunn said. “We've challenged her to be a shooting point guard, and that's something we want her to do. ... They just didn't go down tonight.”

Defense rescued the Fever, which is only right, according to Douglas.

“No matter what happens, our identity is on the defensive end,” said Douglas, who had seven rebounds with her team-high 19 points. “Last year, I think we would just get so down on ourselves if our defense wasn't working. Tonight, (if ) they scored, we still had the mentality on the next possession to disrupt whatever they were doing. We did a good job of taking them out of their sets.”

Dunn concurred and singled out the play of center Tammy Sutton-Brown, who held Chicago's Sylvia Fowles to five shot attempts and 10 points.

“It was great to start the season off with a win,” the coach said. “I thought we did an awfully good job defensively. I thought we really disrupted the things they wanted to do.”

Postgame Notes:

  • Saturday's win is the Fever's sixth in a row against the Sky and Indiana leads the all-time series with Chicago, 17-4.
  • Six straight wins over Chicago represents Indiana's second longest streak ever against a WNBA opponent and it is the longest active streak for Indiana vs. any of the 11 other WNBA teams.
  • The win is the Fever's ninth straight home win in the series. Chicago won its only game ever at Conseco Fieldhouse on August 13, 2006.
  • The Fever's win ends its two-game losing streak in season home openers and it is now 8-4 all-time in its first home game of a season.
  • Tangela Smith's four 3-pt FG tonight are one shy of her career-high,
  • The Fever's 12 steals tonight featured four each from Briann January and Tammy Sutton-Brown.
  • Sutton-Brown's four thefts tied her career-high, while January's were her most ever in a WNBA game.
  • On a night on which the team shot 21-70 (.300), Katie Douglas was 7-14 from the floor, including 2-2 from beyond the 3-pt line.
  • Outrebounded, 20-18, at halftime, the Fever outrebounded the Sky, 21-16, in the second half and 39-36 for the game.
  • The Fever had six players with at least five rebounds, led by Tamika Catchings's nine and seven from Katie Douglas.
  • The Fever had 12 offensive rebounds to Chicago's six and outscored the Sky, 19-8, in second chance points.
  • The league-leader in preseason with an average of 3.0 bpg, Tammy Sutton-Brown blocked five shots tonight--one short of her career-best.
  • In her first regular season appearance in the WNBA, Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot came off the bench to hand out a game-high seven assists and score seven points.
  • Including four 3-pt FG, Epiphanny Prince scored a game-high 20 points.
  • The Sky blocked six shots tonight, but had no one with more than one rejection.
  • Indiana's 12 turnovers resulted in just six points off turnovers for Chicago, while the Fever scored 16 points on the Sky's 18 miscues.