STAR OF THE GAME
Erin Phillips
Filling in for injured guard Briann January, Phillips was the catalyst for the Fever offense. She had a game-high 14 points including a trio of assists and rebounds.
UNSUNG HERO
Shavonte Zellous
Zellous scored 11 points in the game, 9 of them coming in the fourth quarter. She also added six rebounds in the Fever win.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“We were very sluggish in the first half. Washington was hurting us on the boards early. Washington used their physical toughness to throw off our offense. They played a 10 starting the game and we were about a 7 ½."

Erin Phillips
On the slow start:
““Tonight it was definitely not a mental thing. We were ready to play Washington. We were never going to take them easy. They came out playing really hard. Our shots weren’t dropping. It was a total team effort. It was a team we really had to fight. It was a great challenge. We were really happy to get the win. We had a good second half.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 36, Mystics 22
Second-chance points:

Fever 8, Mystics 10
Fast-break points:

Fever 7, Mystics 4
Points off turnovers:

Fever 28, Mystics 7
Starters scoring:

Fever 49, Mystics 46
Bench scoring:

Fever 19, Mystics 11
Phillips, Catchings lead Fever past Mystics

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Indiana 2-8 14 11 24 19 68
at Washington 9-3 24 9 17 7 57

By Tom Rietmann | July 9, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever scuffled through most of the first half Saturday night and trailed the tough-minded Washington Mystics by eight points at halftime.

Then things changed dramatically.

“In the second half, I thought we looked more focused,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said after her team packed away a 68-57 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse. “I thought we adjusted to the physical part of the game. I thought we did a better job of moving the basketball. And I thought our defense pretty much took over.”

The Fever stunned the visitors with 62.5 percent shooting in the third quarter. Indiana followed with 61.5 percent accuracy in the fourth quarter and combined it with fierce defense that mixed a matchup zone with man-to-man. Tamika Catchings made five steals in the quarter. The Mystics managed just seven points, the second fewest ever allowed by Indiana in a fourth quarter.

Dunn summed it up: “We got them out of whack.”

The victory was the sixth straight for the WNBA Eastern Conference-leading Fever (9-3), matching the second-best streak in franchise history.

Indiana took its first lead when Shavonte Zellous drove for a layup with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. Zellous was just warming up. She later maneuvered the baseline for another bucket. Then she bolted from the pack for two fast-break baskets after Catchings poked the ball away from the Mystics.

“We were able to tip balls, get deflections, get steals and score easy baskets,” said Catchings, whose five fourth-quarter steals tied her own WNBA record for the most in one period. In the process, she also passed Los Angeles guard Ticha Penicheiro as the WNBA’s career steals leader. Catchings has 738 in 10 active seasons. Penicheiro, in her 14th year, entered a Saturday game on the West Coast with 736.

Indiana outscored Washington 14-2 to end the game. Washington went scoreless over the final 4:52.

At halftime, Catchings said, the Fever coaches and players talked about “the struggle” they were in as Washington played its unrelenting and aggressive style. The Mystics disrupted Indiana, holding the Fever to 32.3 percent shooting in the first half. They were outrebounding Indiana 23-16 at the half.

“Going into halftime, we weren't satisfied where we were,” said Catchings, whose final stats line showed six steals, three blocked shots, seven rebounds, 10 points and four assists. “It was like, OK, we have 20 minutes to pick up the intensity and turn things around.”

Point guard Erin Phillips led the Fever with 14 points. She had to deal with Kelly Miller's bumping defense most of the night and committed four turnovers with three assists.

“To their credit, they were just so physical,” Phillips said. “Defensively, they were pushing us out of the things we wanted to do. They were scrapping on every rebound. In the second half, we tried to make a conscious effort that our defense had to pick up.”

Said Dunn about Phillips' performance: “She did have a few turnovers, but I thought some of that was fatigue. When you're playing 36 minutes and you're being picked up full-court the entire game, that's tough.”

Katie Douglas scored 12 points. Zellous and Jessica Davenport each had 11. But as Douglas said afterward, it was defense, not offense, that won this one for Indiana.

“I think we have players here who understand the importance of finishing out a game,” the Fever guard said. “Anytime it's not going exactly as we planned on offense, we really just clamp down on defense.”

Dunn was happy to see her team battle back from what she called “a sluggish start.”

“I thought what (the Mystics) were trying to do was use their physical toughness,” Dunn said. “That's the way they play the game, to throw off our timing. I thought it worked in the first half. I thought we let it kind of throw us off. But I also didn't think we came out with the energy.”

Indiana forward Tangela Smith sat out with a bruised quad after suffering the injury at Thursday's practice. Dunn said Smith could return to the lineup Wednesday afternoon (1:00 p.m.) against visiting Connecticut.

Postgame Notes:

  • Pending the outcome of the L.A. Sparks' game later tonight, the Fever's Tamika Catchings has become the WNBA's all-time career leader in steals with 738. The Sparks' Ticha Penicheiro will go into their game tonight with 736 thefts.
  • Catchings's six steals tonight tied the most by any player in the WNBA this season and are the most by any player in the league in a non-overtime contest. Washington's Kerri Gardin and Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle had six steals in overtime games earlier this season.
  • Overall, the Fever had 12 steals, tying their most this season. Indiana also had 12 steals vs. Chicago, 6/4.
  • Catchings also tied a season-high with three blocked shots.
  • Indiana held the Mystics scoreless in the last 4:52 of the game and Washington's seven points in the fourth quarter represent the fewest scored against the Fever in any period this season.
  • The Fever held the Mystics to 57 points tonight, tying the fewest allowed by Indiana this season, and the fewest since the Chicago Sky scored 57 in the season-opener at Conseco Fieldhouse, June 4.
  • On the sidelines with a quad contusion, Tangela Smith's streak of games played has ended at 79 in a row.
  • In the second half, Indiana held Washington to just 24 points, equaling its total for the first quarter.
  • Indiana outscored the Mystics, 36-22, in the paint, matching its most points in the paint this season.
  • Making her second start of the season, Erin Phillips scored a season-high 14 points, including 2-2 from 3-pt range. Phillips's 3-pt FG were the only ones for Indiana and that is the team's second fewest of the season--since making just one at Seattle, 6/17.
  • Indiana had a season-low 10 turnovers tonight and gave up just seven points off turnovers to the Mystics--the fewest by a Fever opponent since Chicago scored just six points off turnovers at Conseco Fieldhouse, 6/4.
  • Indiana's six-game winning streak is its longest since an 11-game streak early in 2009.
  • Washington was just 5-10 from the foul line tonight and the Mystics' five free throws made are a season-low.
  • Indiana was outrebounded by the Mystics, 34-24, and the Fever's 15 defensive rebounds are its fewest of the season.
  • The Fever scored a season-high 28 points off Washington's 20 turnovers--tying the most turnovers by an Indiana opponent this season. Seattle also had 20 turnovers against the Fever on Tuesday, 7/5.
  • Indiana has scored 20+ points off turnovers five times this season, including the last three in a row.
  • The Fever's 25 points in the first half are its fewest in a first half at Conseco Fieldhouse this season.
  • The Fever bench outscored the Mystics' reserves, 19-11, and outgunned an opponent's bench for the ninth time in the last 10 games.