STAR OF THE GAME
Katie Douglas
In 30 minutes, Douglas scored 16 points grabbed a career playoff high nine rebounds.
UNSUNG HERO
Shavonte Zellous
Zellous started tonight and scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In General:
“We played a very good first half. The second half we began very flat. Catchings (Tamika) brought us some energy. We had to limit her play, but she is a warrior. Castro Marques (Iziane) makes their team quicker. We lost our poise and composure because of their quickness. I loved the fans tonight, as I have all season. I’m not taking away the fact that we did win the Eastern Conference regular season.”

Katie Douglas
On her frustration with the loss
“It was crazy physical. And not only that, we looked terrible on offense, out of sync. We didn’t handle their adjustments. We didn’t adjust. It is on us. We didn’t handle the adjustments they made well at all.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 36, Dream 32
Second-chance points:

Fever 20, Dream 21
Fast-break points:

Fever 7, Dream 16
Points off turnovers:

Fever 6, Dream 18
Starters scoring:

Fever 46, Dream 80
Bench scoring:

Fever 21, Dream 3
Dream beats Fever 83-67, advance to finals

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Atlanta 2-1 28 11 22 22 83
at Indiana 1-2 23 12 12 20 67

By Tom Rietmann | September 27, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Playing with an injury-slowed Tamika Catchings, the Indiana Fever battled headwinds from the start of Tuesday night's elimination game in the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals.

The Fever's valiant push fell short. The Atlanta Dream used a combined 49 points from Iziane Castro Marques and Angel McCoughtry, along with some withering defense, to capture an 83-67 victory. The loss shattered Indiana's hopes of returning to the WNBA Finals for the second time in three seasons.

Afterward, Fever Coach Lin Dunn preferred to look at her team's body of work during 2011 and not just the final game. Indiana finished the regular season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, even after a knee injury ended point guard Briann January's year after just 10 games.

“I thought we showed a lot of what I call true grit to accomplish what we accomplished,” Dunn said. “I'm going to hang our hat on the fact we won the regular-season championship and we played as well as we did to get where we were.”

The defeat Tuesday night marked the first time in franchise history the Fever lost a playoff series as the higher-seeded team. The Fever also fell for the first time in six elimination games at Conseco Fieldhouse.

“It's definitely a low point right now,” said Katie Douglas, who led the Fever with 16 points with nine rebounds.

For Tammy Sutton-Brown, who had 11 points and nine rebounds, it was a nagging feeling.

“I really think I'm going to wake up in a few minutes and the game's going to start,” she said. “It's not one of those things you expect. We definitely expected to be playing after tonight. It was a tough loss to handle.”

McCoughtry scored 26 for Atlanta and Castro Marques had 23. They combined for 57 points two days earlier in Game 2 at Atlanta.

The Dream staged an 18-4 run in the third quarter that put the Fever in a 57-39 hole. Indiana committed seven turnovers in the third quarter and 18 for the game.

“I thought they took their defense up a notch,” Dunn said about the Dream. “I didn't think we matched their level of intensity to start the second half.”

The Dream heads into a WNBA Finals matchup against Minnesota having won 21 of 27 games after a 3-9 start this season. Tuesday night, Atlanta used its quickness to keep Indiana off-balance. The Dream also hit 21-of-33 free throws to the Fever's 7-of-11.

“You can't overcome 33 free throws. That's really tough,” Dunn said.

“It was crazy physical,” Douglas said about the game.

Catchings suffered a foot injury in Game 2 and had to be carried off the floor. Her availability Tuesday night was uncertain until just before tipoff. She came off the bench, totaling six points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.

“She brought us energy, she brought us leadership,” Dunn said. “She's a warrior.”

For the Fever, it was a painful ending to a superb year. For Catchings, however, it wasn't as disappointing as 2010, when the Fever struggled late in the year and then suffered elimination in the first round to the New York Liberty.

“Last year, I was really beyond disappointed, just sick,” said Catchings, who was the league's MVP in 2011. “This year, I'm disappointed, not sick, but disappointed. (It's) knowing how hard we worked as a team, knowing all the stuff we've been through but being able to stick together. When you look at what we accomplished as a team, you see the character.”

As the Fever team does after any season, it will make a few changes in the coming months. However, Dunn indicated there won't be anything resembling a complete makeover. Douglas, Catchings, Sutton-Brown and forward Tan Smith all are 32 or older.

“I certainly think that we have a roster that can challenge for a WNBA championship,” Dunn said. “I certainly don't think the window is closed. We feel like we have a lot of pieces.”

Postgame Notes:

  • With tonight's win, the Dream advances to the WNBA Finals for the second year in a row and snaps Indiana's home winning streak in elimination games at Conseco Fieldhouse at five in a row.
  • Indiana outrebounded the Dream, 43-40, but is 0-3 in the 2011 playoffs in games in which it outrebounds its opponent. The Fever's 43 boards tonight are its third most ever in a postseason game.
  • The Fever's 18 offensive rebounds tonight tied the franchise playoff record set in an overtime game against Washington, 9/19/09.
  • Tammy Sutton-Brown and Katie Douglas both had a team-high five offensive rebounds. Sutton-Brown's are her most ever in the playoffs, while Douglas tied her career best at the offensive end.
  • The Dream shot three times as many free throws (33-11) as the Fever and outscored Indiana, 21-7, at the foul line, despite shooting just under 64 percent (.636) from the foul line. Having shot 11-19 from the line by herself, Angel McCoughtry outshot and outscored the entire Indiana team from the line.
  • Katie Douglas fell one rebound short of her first ever postseason double-double with a team-high 16 points and a playoff career-high nine boards.
  • The Fever's 67 points tonight are its fewest in a playoff game since a 72-56 loss in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals at Detroit, 9/23/09.
  • After totaling 23 points in the first period, the Fever scored just 24 points in the second and third quarters combined.
  • Of the Fever's 18 turnovers tonight, 15 were the result of Atlanta steals and that is the most steals ever for an Indiana opponent in the postseason.
  • Sancho Lyttle's five steals are the second most ever recorded against the Fever in a playoff game and are the most since Katie Douglas had eight for the Connecticut Sun in an overtime loss to the Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse, 8/27/07.
  • Shyra Ely's bench-high seven points tonight are the first points of her postseason career.
  • Sandora Irvin's 3-pt FG at the end of the first half was her first 3-pt FG of 2011. It was the seventh 3-pt FG of her seven-year WNBA career.
  • Those three points were the only points scored by Atlanta's bench, as Alison Bales and Coco Miller were scoreless (0-5 FG) in 30 combined minutes.