82 at Indiana
By Tom Rietmann | July 10, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- In a time of need Tuesday, the Indiana Fever turned to a couple of old reliables.
Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas combined for 16 of the Fever's 18 points in the fourth quarter in Indiana's 84-82 victory over the New York Liberty at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And Catchings, fresh off a session with her shooting coach, calmly sank a pair of free throws with 8.4 seconds left to gain the victory.
“We had to go to our big dogs,” said point guard Briann January, referring to the veteran Catchings and Douglas. “We had faith they'd pull us through.”
The victory lifted Indiana to a 10-6 record ahead of Thursday night's matchup against Los Angeles, which will be the Fever's final game before the WNBA's month-long Olympic break. But getting past New York wasn't easy as the Liberty's Cappie Pondexter scored 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting.
As Fever Coach Lin Dunn said, Pondexter makes a habit of producing “all-world” performances. But Indiana's defense stopped Pondexter from even touching the ball when it mattered most -- on New York's final possession after Catchings' two free throws. Essence Carson forced up the final shot against a strong defensive effort by Tammy Sutton-Brown, missing badly.
“What a great game,” Dunn said. “I'm really proud of what we were able to do today.”
The Fever, with some crisp passing and movement, manufactured open shots and hit 52.5 percent from the field (32-of-61). Indiana, on a league-record pace from the 3-point arc, connected on 9-of-18 there. Catchings totaled 23 points, Douglas 20. Shavonte Zellous contributed 12 points.
Indiana went into the fourth quarter with a 66-59 edge. But with Pondexter getting red-hot, the Fever needed Catchings and Douglas to respond in kind.
Which they did.
“I'm always talking to Catch and she's always talking to me about what we can do to get ourselves involved,” said Douglas. “The whole team did a good job of sustaining and keeping our composure (in the fourth quarter).”
However, Pondexter kept firing and tied it at 70-all with a 16-foot fadeaway jumper with 6 ½ minutes remaining. It set up a back-and-forth finish.
Four straight 3-pointers -- two apiece by Catchings and Douglas -- put the Fever at 82 points before Pondexter answered with a trey that pulled the Liberty even.
After Catchings chased down an offensive rebound following a January miss, the Fever star was fouled by Leilani Mitchell. Her free throws with 8.4 seconds left were perfect.
“When the game is on the line, I want Tamika Catchings at the free throw line,” Dunn said.
Added Douglas about Catchings: “She's the (reigning) MVP of this league for a reason.”
On Monday, Catchings spent some time with her shooting coach, Marvin Harvey, who visited her after the Fever's practice. Catchings said Harvey worked mostly on some mental aspects, with few alterations to her form.
Catchings, who had gone 3-of-15 and 5-of-15 in a couple of recent games, responded with 9-of-15 shooting against the Liberty. She hit both of her 3-point attempts.
Afterward, she was accepting little credit, instead praising her team's poise, its fluid ball movement and the defense of Sutton-Brown on the final possession.
“Just continuing our quest to be a good team,” Catchings said.