ORLANDO Natasha Howard scored a game-high 16 points and Marissa Coleman added 11 as the Indiana Fever won for the first time in four preseason games, downing the Phoenix Mercury 75-60 in the consolation game of the WNBA Preseason Tournament.
Howard, the No. 5 overall pick in the recent WNBA Draft, shot 7-of-8 from the floor and did not play in the fourth quarter.
Our big rookie had a great game after struggling some on Friday, said Fever coach Lin Dunn on Howard. She ran the floor really well, she attacked the rim. She was a real positive for us.
Howard also played a key on defense guarding Phoenix star Brittney Griner. I thought we did as good a job as can be expected guarding Griner, added Dunn. Anytime you hold her to 13 points and six rebounds, I think thats a good game.
Playing its fourth preseason game in six days, Indiana led 33-28 at the intermission, and opened the second half with a 19-8 scoring run to command a 52-36 lead with 5:28 left in the third quarter.
The Mercury drew within 10 points at 55-45, but a 6-0 mini run to end the third quarter staked the Fever back to a 16-point margin at 61-45. Following a timeout, third-round draft pick Haiden Palmer hit a bucket and two free throws to push Indiana to its largest lead, 65-45, with 8:58 to play.
Indiana led throughout the contest, but for a pair of brief lead changes. The Mercurys biggest highlight came on a Griner dunk with just 3:53 left in the game. She finished with 13 points and Candace Dupree had 15.
Rookie Jaterra Bonds scored 10 points for Indiana, and Lynetta Kizer added eight points and seven rebounds.
The Fever outrebounded the Mercury 36-28, and outshot Phoenix from the floor, 42 percent to 38 percent.
Said Dunn, Thats four games in a row that weve won the boards. That is something we have focused on all training camp.
Indiana opens the 2014 regular season next weekend. The Fever visits Chicago on Friday, May 16 (8:00 p.m. ET), followed by its home opener on Saturday, May 17 against the Atlanta Dream (7:00 p.m.).