74 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann
When Tulsa took the lead with 4 ˝ minutes remaining, Jessica Davenport took control.
The Indiana Fever center scored nine points, blocked two shots and made a steal in the final 4 minutes, 20 seconds of Tuesday night's game at Conseco Fieldhouse. Davenport, on the receiving end of some timely passes from point guard Briann January, dominated the fourth quarter as the Fever gained command of a tight game and captured an 82-74 victory over the Shock.
“I thought the energy picked up, the whole feeling of our team picked up,” said Davenport, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. “Once that happens, I think we're a dangerous team.
“They tell me to protect the paint,” the 6-5 center said, “and that's what I wanted to do.”
The Fever lifted its record to 3-1 ahead of a trip to Seattle, Phoenix and Washington. Tulsa, playing without celebrated rookie Liz Cambage (concussion), fell to 0-5.
“I thought we played a much better second half,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “I thought we had more energy, intensity, hustle.”
The Indiana box score reflected a number of strong performances, starting with Katie Douglas, who scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting overall and 6-of-9 from 3-point range. She also added a steal, which made her the first WNBA player to reach 500 steals and 500 3-point field goals. Douglas has hit 16-of-28 treys this season (57.1 percent).
“It's a tribute to her and her all-around game,” Dunn said about Douglas' 500-500 record. “She has really focused this year on her defense and her rebounding, and always on her shooting. She's as well rounded a player, I think, as there is in the game right now.”
Said Douglas about the unusual milestone that reflects both offensive and defensive skills: “It's a great individual feat, but I'll trade all of those in for a championship.
“The first few years, everybody said, 'She's a shooter,' and nothing about defense. I'm not the quickest, but I feel I read the situation, read the angles and am able to play the passing lanes. I've been working at it, and I guess after 11 years I'm kind of getting good at it.”
Erin Phillips, the Fever's new point guard from Australia, scored 10 points with five rebounds and two assists. She and her fellow point, January, played together down the stretch and combined for seven points in the final 3:02 of a game that had 12 lead changes and seven ties.
“I thought we just got tremendous play from Erin,” Dunn said. “Great defense. Knocked down big shots. Got on the boards. When you get help like that from the bench, it's really huge for you.”
January, too, played a starring role with 10 assists, the most for a Fever player since 2007. January spent her off-season working on the execution of pick-and-rolls, and she found Davenport with three nice passes to set up the center's late heroics after Tulsa gained a 67-66 edge with 4:37 left.
“We were going to run it until they stopped it,” January said. “It's easy to play with Dav because you have to respect both of us.”
The Fever sealed the game by outscoring the visitors 21-14 in the fourth quarter. Indiana shot 63.6 percent (7-of-11) in the quarter while holding Tulsa to 33.3 percent (6-of-18).
“We just kind of settled down and executed and made sure we got good shots every possession,” January said.
Ivory Latta led Tulsa with 19 points. Jennifer Lacy had 14 and rookie Kayla Pedersen scored 13. Pederson, a college teammate of Fever rookie Jeanette Pohlen, played all 40 minutes.
“We are a very young team,” Shock coach Nolan Richardson said. “And I'm happy with our youngsters, though we ran out of steam at the end. We had three key possessions going down the stretch where I thought we got into our offense too late and didn't get good shots.”