Indiana Wins One at the Wire

By Tom Rietmann | May 31, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marissa Coleman was growing annoyed with her missed field goal tries from the perimeter. She decided to take a different approach.

With 3:12 left in a tightly contested game against New York on Saturday night, Indiana's Coleman grabbed a rebound at the defensive end and bolted down the court. She slowed down only enough to swerve from Liberty defenders.

She drove all the way to the bucket for a tough layup that set the tone for the final three minutes of the Fever's hard-fought 70-66 victory.

“I think at that point,” Coleman said, “I was so frustrated with missing so many jump shots in the game, I was determined to take it and get that layup.”

Coleman wasn't done. She hit a pair of free throws with 7.8 seconds remaining to cinch the Fever victory. She finished the night with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, reaching the 1,000-point mark for her WNBA career.

Fever Coach Lin Dunn was delighted about the baseline-to-baseline drive by Coleman, who signed as a free agent with Indiana during the off-season.

“I thought we were much better when we attacked,” Dunn said. “When we set up and slowed down, (New York's) defense got real tough. I thought anytime we got a chance to attack in transition, it was in our best interest. I was glad to see her take it all the way to the rim.”

Indiana won its third consecutive game after dropping its first three. The victories aren't always pretty, but the Fever is finding ways to win while star Tamika Catchings continues to recover from a back injury.

Coleman's fourth-quarter heroics were a prime example.

“That was huge,” Fever guard Briann January said about Coleman's full-court drive. “That just shows you that everybody on our team has the ability to step up in crucial situations. That's the beauty of our team.”

January herself is providing beautiful performances as the team prepares to play five of the next six games on the road. She totaled 20 points for the third time this season, hitting 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-4 from the 3-point line. She also contributed seven assists and four steals.

“She had like an All-Star stat line there,” Dunn said.

January is 15-of-21 from the 3-point arc this season, including 11-of-12 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. She also has played efficiently, attempting only 65 shots in Indiana's six games while running the team's offense. Shooting more isn't something she worries about.

“We have plenty of scorers on this team,” January said. “There's no need for me to shoot any extra or any more or press for shots. We're going to work to get the best shot for our team.”

The Fever opened an 11-point lead in the second quarter (35-24), using a 16-2 run. Dunn said afterward her team might have relaxed at that point. New York (2-4) pulled within three points at halftime and the game stayed close thereafter.

Indiana continues to struggle on the glass and was outrebounded by a 40-29 margin by the Liberty. Rookie Natasha Howard and Erlana Larkins led the Fever with seven rebounds each. Tina Charles grabbed 14 for New York while scoring a game-high 22 points.

Cappie Pondexter, who came in as New York's leading scorer with a 16.2 mark, totaled just seven points on 1-of-10 from the field. Dunn pointed to that as a key factor in Indiana's victory.

“A really good win for us at home,” Dunn said. “The game came right down to the wire and we stepped up and hit our free throws, which we hadn't been doing in the past.”

Indiana connected on 14-of-19 foul shots, including 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

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