Zellous' last-second shot wins it for Fever
|STAR OF THE GAME
In over 37 minutes of play Douglas finished with a game-high 24 points, shooting 9-of-19 from the field. Spending most of the second quarter in the point guard position, due to Indiana foul trouble, she added one rebound and two steals.
Coming off the bench, Zellous added only four points but two of them came from a game-winning buzzer beater to lift the Fever over the Sun and force a decisive game three. She finished shooting 2-for-6 from the field and added four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot.
“It was a great TV game. I’m sure everyone who tuned in got their money’s worth. It was very exciting. I can’t say enough about the crowd, it seemed like the last four minutes of the game the crowd was standing and cheering. It was a hard fought battle. I think we did all the things that we needed to do. At gut check time we had some good penetration. Briann (January) missed that layup at the end, scrambled and knocked that ball back in bounds to Zellous (Shavonte) and she knocked down the shot.”
“My mentality is just to attack. I’m trying to toy with the defense. I had the ball in my hands a lot at the top. They were playing me so many different ways. I’ve learned over the years my power is to that (pick and roll) and every player wants to get back to their strong hand.”
Points in the paint:
Fever 34, Sun 22
Fever 18, Sun 14
Fever 2, Sun 5
Points off turnovers:
Fever 21, Sun 9
Fever 68, Sun 64
Fever 10, Sun 12
By Tom Rietmann | October 8, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- As basketball goes, the game proved to be splendid theater. Intense action. Six ties and lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. And a high-drama ending that had 9,225 fans in Bankers Life Fieldhouse going bonkers.
Shavonte Zellous hit the game winner, a 16-foot jumper in the final second. Her field goal elevated the Indiana Fever to a 78-76 triumph over the Connecticut Sun on Monday night. Indiana's victory means the best-of-three WNBA Eastern Conference finals will return to Connecticut on Thursday night for a deciding game.
“I thought it was a great TV game,” said Fever Coach Lin Dunn. “I'm sure everybody that tuned in got their money's worth.”
So did a Fieldhouse crowd that produced ear-splitting noise most of the night, but especially in the stirring final minute.
First, Tamika Catchings stormed down the lane and made a left-handed layup with 21.3 seconds left, giving Indiana a 76-74 edge.
Then Connecticut's Allison Hightower sank a base-line jumper to tie it at 76-all. She shot a free throw for the lead, missed and Catchings rebounded.
Catchings saw Briann January sprinting down the court. January hauled in Catchings' perfect pass and went straight to the hoop. But her layup rimmed out as the clock slid under five seconds.
January, however, didn't give up on the play. She dived and saved the ball from going out of bounds, slapping it to Zellous. The Indiana guard maneuvered close to the foul line and lofted in her jumper just before the buzzer.
“I just knew it was down to the wire and I had to put a shot up,” said Zellous, who also hit a last-second dagger to beat Seattle during the regular season.
Catchings smiled when she was asked to describe what she saw on the final play.
“That's what Z does all day in practice,” Catchings said. “Right when it left her hand, it was like, 'All right, this is going in.' ''
And about January's move to save the ball, Catchings added: “What a great hustle play.”
Katie Douglas led the Fever with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Catchings contributed 21 points. Erlana Larkins grabbed 11 rebounds.
Kara Lawson led Connecticut with 18 points, and Dunn said afterward her team sometimes didn't keep close enough track of the Sun standout. Asjha Jones scored 17 with 10 rebounds, and league MVP Tina Charles had 15 points and eight rebounds.
From Sun Coach Mike Thibault's perspective, the game got away from his team as it committed 15 turnovers that led to 21 Fever points.
“We just made some really bad decisions,” he said.
And Indiana played some high-level defense.
“I thought our defense set the tone from the get-go,” Dunn said.
Indiana survived a wobbly 1-of-7 shooting start and an early 13-2 deficit. The Fever shot 44.1 percent for the night (30-of-68) while making only eight turnovers.
Now the series advances to the elimination game at Connecticut, where Indiana lost the opener by a 76-64 count.
“I think you're going to see a very close game in Game 3,” said Douglas. “Everybody's going to make little counters, little tweaks, little adjustments. … I think you're going to see everybody trying to battle to get that spot in the WNBA Finals.”
Postgame Notes: With today’s win, the Fever lifts its record in elimination games all-time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to 8-1, including a mark of 2-0 in 2012.
Overall, the Fever is 3-0 in elimination games in 2012. All-time, Indiana is now 10-8 in elimination games.
The Fever’s eight turnovers matched the fewest by any team in the 2012 postseason. Minnesota committed eight in a game twice this postseason, once against Seattle and once against Los Angeles.
Tonight’s attendance of 9,225 is the Fever largest in the playoffs since 2009.
After having had 10+ rebounds once in her entire career before this postseason, Erlana Larkins has collected double-digit rebounds twice in the five playoff games she has played for the Fever. Larkins leads the WNBA with 24 offensive rebounds in five postseason outings in 2012.
Including her 24 points tonight, Katie Douglas has topped 20+ points in each of the last three games. She has averaged 25.0 ppg in that span.
After shooting 10-12 FG between them in the first half, Connecticut’s Tina Charles and Ashja Jones shot a combined 3-12 FG in the second half.
Indiana had assists on just six of its 30 field goals tonight, setting a franchise record for fewest assists in a playoff game.
Tamika Catchings led the Fever with three steals tonight and she has had multiple steals in six straight games, including each of the five postseason games to date. That is her longest streak of the season with two or more thefts.
Making her first appearance in four games, Jessica Davenport led the Indiana bench with six points on 3-5 FG. She added three offensive boards, an assist and a blocked shot in 13 minutes.
Indiana outscored the Sun, 34-22, in the paint and Connecticut’s total is the fewest by a Pacers’ opponent in the playoffs this year. The Fever has held three of its last four opponents to 24 or fewer points in the paint.
Connecticut’s 14 points in the third quarter matched the second fewest Indiana has allowed in any period in the 2012 postseason to date. Indiana’s 10 points in that quarter were its second fewest in a quarter in this postseason.
After coming off the bench to score 13 points in the Sun’s win on Friday, Tan White was scoreless in just under 14 minutes (13:43) tonight.