Fever beats Mystics 87-69, muscles its way to No. 1 seed
|STAR OF THE GAME
Catchings added another MVP performance to her resume this season. She posted a double double scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
In 29 minutes of action, Sutton-Brown played her best game of the season. She scored a season-high 15 points and ripped down seven rebounds.
“Very proud of our players tonight. We looked good early then we started turning the ball over. In the second half we turned the game around. Shyra (Ely) came off the bench and gave us some big points. I thought we played very hard in the second half. We’re hoping that Erin (Phillips) will be okay. If Erin is out, Catch (Tamika Catchings), Douglas (Katie) and Bobbitt (Shannon) will share point guard duties. Just because we clinched first place, doesn’t mean we don’t want to win our final two games.”
On momentum swings
“They came in and gave us a hard fought battle. So I’m impressed with the way they played so hard and fought us every possession, every second. I’m happy to be part of this team. I think it was a good test for us. We don’t want to be gifted things. I think it’s a lot nicer when you fight for them. So give us credit that we had poise and composure and the character to be able to grind it out and get this win.”
Points in the paint:
Fever 34, Mystics 38
Fever 16, Mystics 11
Fever 8, Mystics 13
Points off turnovers:
Fever 24, Mystics 12
Fever 73, Mystics 41
Fever 14, Mystics 28
By Tom Rietmann | September 7, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS -- Every time the game grew uncomfortably close, the Indiana Fever players marshaled their resources against a determined Washington Mystics club.
The Fever found a way to win Wednesday night. Their 87-69 victory clinched the No. 1 seed in the WNBA Eastern Conference playoffs. Anything less would have been unacceptable.
“A great team win,” Coach Lin Dunn said after Indiana put four players in double-digit scoring, led by Katie Douglas' 21, and rallied from a one-point halftime deficit. “I thought that what you saw out there was a really tough Fever team saying, 'We're going to win this.' And they took it up another notch.”
However, even with the victory that lifted Indiana to a 21-11 record and only its second top seed in franchise history, the team departed Conseco Fieldhouse under a cloud of uncertainty.
With 3:34 left in the game, a driving Erin Phillips rolled her left ankle when she stepped on Crystal Langhorne's foot. The Fever's starting point guard, who replaced an injured Briann January early this season, hit the floor hard, grimacing in pain. Tests on Phillips' ankle showed no fracture, and Dunn said the club is “hopeful” she will be fine for the start of postseason play next week.
But for precautionary reasons, Phillips won't travel with the Fever to New York for Friday night's game, and her status for Sunday night's regular-season final against Atlanta is questionable.
Indiana came into the game wanting desperately to wrap up the top seed, which comes with home-court advantage through the first two rounds of playoffs. The Fever opened with some energetic defense, crisp ball movement and deft shooting. But last-place Washington (6-27) played with abandon, staging a 17-3 second-quarter run that brought a 37-36 edge at the half.
Indiana persevered. The Fever shot 51.7 percent in the second half and held the Mystics to 34.3 percent. The home team opened the third quarter on 9-0 run and ended the game on 16-4 push.
“In the second half, we came out with a sense of urgency and a sense of frustration,” Douglas said. “And I think we channeled that into some determination out there.”
And when it ended, Fever forward Tamika Catchings had the 72nd double-double of her career with 10 rebounds with her 17 points. Tammy Sutton-Brown scored a season-high 15 points and added seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Phillips had 13 points and four rebounds before her departure.
“Washington always fights and plays hard,” said Sutton-Brown. “They fought, but eventually we settled down and picked it up a little.”
Postgame Notes: With tonight's win the Fever clinches the best record in the Eastern Conference and home court advantage throughout the first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs.
Having held the Mystics to 69 points, the Fever broke a streak of four straight games in which it allowed the opposition 80 or more points. Indiana has held its opponent to less than 70 points 13 times and won 12 of those.
Tonight's 18-point win is the Fever's 16th game decided by 10 or more points and its 11th win in those 16 games. Eleven wins by double digits is tied for second most in the WNBA with San Antonio. Minnesota leads the WNBA with 17 double digit wins.
With her 17 points and 10 rebounds Tamika Catchings registered the 72nd double-double of her career, moving her ahead of Cheryl Ford into sole possession of fifth place on the WNBA's all-time career double-doubles list. Catchings has a team-high four double-doubles this season.
Tonight's win is the Fever's 13th home win of the season, one short of the franchise record set in 2005 and tied in 2009.
With her game-high 21 points tonight Katie Douglas scored 20+ points for the first time since hitting for 20 points in a win over Connecticut, 7/13, 18 games ago. She has scored 20+ points six times this season.
Overall, Indiana has won 21 or more games for the third consecutive season, and the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
Tammy Sutton-Brown's 15 points are her most this season.
The Fever had 10 steals tonight, including a game-high four from Shannon Bobbitt, which is one short of her most ever in the WNBA.
With 10 steals and just nine turnovers tonight, the Fever had more steals than turnovers for the fifth time this season.
Tammy Sutton-Brown tied her season-high with five blocked shots and the team had eight rejections--tying its second most of the season. Eight blocks is the team's most since it rejected a season-high 12 shots at Seattle, 6/17.
Including her team-high five tonight, Katie Douglas has had four or more assists in three straight games for the first time in 2011.
With four players attempting at least five free throws, the Fever tied a season-high with 31 attempts.
Shyra Ely's seven points off the bench included a season-best 5-5 FT.
Ely's seven points led the Indiana bench, which scored just 14 points tonight.
Outscored 38-34 in the paint, the Fever leveled its record at 8-8 in games in which it is outscored in the paint.